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BOHN’S CLASSICAL LIBBABY 


SENECA ON BENEFITS 



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L. ANNAEUS SENECA 


ON BENEFITS 

ABDBESSED TO 

AEBUTIUS LIBERALIS 


TRANSLATED BY 

AUBBEY STEWART, M.A. 

LATIC FRLLOW OF TRINITY COLLKGR, CAMBRIDGE 



LONDON 

a BELL AND SONS, LTD 
1912 



CHISWICK /PRESS : CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO, 
lUtnys CVUKT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON. 



PREFACE 

S ENECA, the favourite classic of the early fathers oi 
the church and of the ’Middle Ages, whom Jerome 
Tertullian, and Augustine speak of as “ Seneca noster,’ 
who was believed to have corresponded with St, Paul, anc 
upon whom ’ Calvin wrote a commentary, seems almosi 
forgotten in modern times. Perhaps some of his popu- 
larity may have been due to his being supposed to b( 
the author of those tragedies which the world has lon^ 
ceased to read, but which delighted a period that preferrec 
Euripides to Aeschylus : while casuists must have founc 
congenial matter in an author whose fantastic cases o: 
conscience are often worthy of Sanchez or Escobar. Yol 
Seneca’s morality is always pure, and from him we gai:j;^ 
albeit at second hand, an insight into the doctrines of tin 
Greek philosophers, Zeno, Epicurus, Chrysippus, &c. 
whose precepts and system of religious thought had ii 
cultivated Roman society taken the place of the olci 
worship of Jupiter and Quirinus. 

Since Lodge’s edition (fol. 1614), no complete translatioi 
of Seneca has been published in England, though Sii 
Roger L’Estrange wrote paraphrases of several Dialogues 
which seem to have been enormously popular, runnin|j 
through more than sixteen editions. I think we may con- 
jecture that Shakespeare had seen Lodge’s translation 

* On the ‘^De dementia," an odd subject >r the man who burner 
Servetus alive for dltfering with him. 



vi PEEFACB. 

from several allusions to philosophy, to thaC impossible 
conception " the wise man,” and especially from a, passage 
in “ All’s Well that ends Well,” which seems to breathe the 
very spirit of “ De Beneficiis.” 

“ ’Tis pity 

That wishing well had not a body in it 
Which might be felt : that we, the poorer born, 

Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes, 

Might with effects of them follow our friends 
And show what we alone must think ; which never 
Keturns us thanks.” 

AWs Will that ends Well, Act i. sc, 1 

Though, if this will not fit the supposed date of that play, 
ho may have taken the idea from “ The Woorke of Lucius 
Annseus Seneca concerning Benefyting, that is too say, the 
dooing, recey ving, and requyting of good turnes, translated 
0 it of Latin by A. G-oldiug. J. Bay, London, 1578,” 
And even during the Restoration, Pepys’s ideal of virtuous 
and lettered seclusion is a country house in whose garden 
he might sit on summer afternoons with his friend, Sir W. 
Coventry, “ it maybe, to read a chapter of Seneca,” In 
sharp contrast to this is VahleiTs preface to the minor Dia- 
logues, which he edited after the death of his friend Koch, 
who had begun that work, in which he remarks that “ he has 
read much of this writer, in order to perfect his knowledge 
of Latin, for otherwise he neither admires his artificial 
subtleties of thought, nor his childish mannerisms of 
style ” (Yahlen, preface, p, v., ed. 1879, Jena), 

Yet by the student of the history of Rome under the 
Caesars, Seneca is not to be neglected, because, whatever 
may be thought of the intrinsic merit of his speculations, 
he represe^jts, more perhaps even than Tacitus, the intel- 
lectual characteristics of his age, “and the tone of society in 
Rome — nor could vie weU spare the gossiping stories which 
We find imbedded in his graver dissertations. The follow- 



PBEFACJSi 


vii 

ing extract f^rom Dean Merivale’s “ History of the Romans 
under tV»e Empire ” will show the estimate of him which 
has been formed by that accomplished writer : — 

“ At Rome, we have no reason to suppose that Chris- 
tianity was only the refuge of the afflicted and miserable ; 
rather, if we may lay any stress on the documents above 
referred to, it was first embraced by persons in a certain 
grade of comfort and respectability; by persons approaching 
to what we should call the middle classes in their condition, 
their education, and their moral views. Of this class 
Seneca himself was the idol, the oracle ; he was, so to 
speak, the favourite preacher of the more intelligent and 
humane disciples of nature and virtue. Now the writings 
of Seneca show, in their way, a real anxiety among this 
class to raise the moral tone of mankind around them; a 
spirit of reform, a zeal for the conversion of souls, which, 
though it never rose, indeed, under the teaching of the 
philosophers, to boiling heat, still simmered, With genial 
warmth on the surface of society. Ear different as was 
their social standing-point, far different as were the 
foundations and the presumed sanctions of their teaching 
respectively, Seneca and St. Paul were both moral re- 
formers; both, be it said with reverence, were fellow- 
workers ip the cause of humanity, though the Christian 
could look beyond the proximate aims of morality and 
prepare men for a final development on which- the Stoic 
could not venture to gaze. Hence there is so much in 
their principles, so much even in their language, which 
agrees together, so that the one has been thought, though 
it must be allowed without adequate reason, to have 
borrowed directly from the other.^ But the philosopher 

^ It is hardly necessary tQ refer to the protended letters between 
St. Paul and Seneca. Besides the evidence from style, some of the 
dates they contain are yuiw sufficient to condemn them as clumsy 
forgeries. They arc mentioned, but with no expression of belief in 



PitBFACS. 


viii 

be it remembered, discoursed to a large and not inattentive 
audience, and surely the soil was not all unfruttful on 
which his seed was scattered when he proclaimed that ^od 
diwelU not in temples of wood and stone, nor wants the 
ministrations of human hands : ^ that Ee has no delight in the 
blood of victims : ® that He is near to all His creatures : ® that 
His Spirit resides in men’s hearts : * that all men are truly 
His offspring ; ® that we are members of one body, which is 
God or Nature : ® that men must believe in God before they 
can approach Him : ’ that the true service of God is to he 
like unto Him : ® that all men have sinned, and none per-^ 
formed all the works of the law : * that God is no respecter of 
nations, ranks, or conditions, hut all, barbarian and Noman, 
bond and free, are alike under His alhseeing Providence?^ 

St. Paul enjoined submission and obedience even to the 
tyranny of Nero, and Seneca fosters no ideas subversive of 
pdlitioal subjection. Endurance is the paramount virtue 
of the Stoic. To forms of government the wise man was 

their genuineness, by Jerome and Augustine. See Jones, “On the 
Canon,” ii. 80. 

^ Sen., Ep. 95, and in Lactantius, Inst. vi. 

•* Ep. 116 ; “ Colitur Deus non tauris sed pia et recta voluntate.” 

» Ep. 41, 73. 

* Ep. 46 : “ Sacer intra nos spiritus sedet.” 

« » De Prov.,” i. 

® Ep. 93, 95 : “ Membra sumus magni corporis.” 

7 Ep. 95 : “ Primus Deorum cultus est Deos credere.” 

• Ep. 95 : “ Satis coluit quisquis imitatus est.” 

” Sen. de Ira. i. 14 j ii. 27 : “ Quis est iste qui se profitetur omnibus 
Icgibus innocentem ? ” 

w “De Benef.,” iii. 18; “ Virtus omnes admittit, libertinoa, servos, 
reges.” These and many other passages are collected by Champagny, 
ii, 546, after Fabricius and others, and compared with well-known texts 
of Scripture. The version of the Vulgate shows a great deal of verbal 
correspondence. M. Troplong remarks, after De Maistr^, that Seneca 
has written a fine book rm Providence, fo» which there was not even a 
name at Borne in the time oi Ciixiro.— “ L’Influence du Christianisme,”. 
&c., h, th. 4. 



PREPAOB. 


IX 


wholly indifterent ; they were among the external circum- 
stances afeove which his spirit soared in serene self-cdn- 
templation. "We trace in Seneca no yearning for a resto- 
ration of political freedom, nor does he even point to the 
senate, after the manner of the patriots of the day, as a 
legitimate chech to the autocracy of the despot. The only 
mode, in his view, of tempering tyranny is to educate the 
tyrant himself in virtue. His was the self-denial of the 
Christians, but without their anticipated compensation. It 
seems impossible to doubt that in his highest flights of 
rhetoric— and no man ever recommended the una.ttainable 
with a finer grace — Seneca must have felt that he was 
labouring to build up a house without foundations ; that his 
system, as Caius said of his style, was sand without lime. 
He was surely not unconscious of the inconsistency of hjs 
own position, as a public man and a minister, with tj^ 
theories to which he had wedded himself ; and of the iioa- 
possibility of preserving in it the purity of his character 
a philosopher or a man. He was aware that in the eiigt- 
ing state of society at Eome, wealth was necessary to men 
high in station ; wealth alone could retain influence, and a 
poor minister became at once contemptible. The distri-'' 
hutor of the Imperial favours must have his banquets, his 
receptions, his slaves and freedmen ; he must possess the 
means of attracting if not of bribing ; he must not seem 
loo virtuous, too austere, among an evil generation ; in 
order to do good at all he must swim with the stream, 
however polluted it might be. All this inconsistency 
Seneca must have contemplated without blenching ; and 
there is something touching in the serenity he preserved 
amidst the conflict that must have perpetually raged be- 
tween his natural sense and his acquired principles. Both 
Cicero and Seneca were men of many weaknesses, and we 
remark them the more because both were pretenders to 
unusual strength of character ; but while Cicero lapsed 



X 


PREFACE. 


into political errors, Seneca cannot be absc^ived of actual 
crime. Nevertheless, if we may compare th^ greatest 
masters of Eoman wisdom together, the Stoic will appear, I 
think, the more earnest of the two, the more anxious*to do 
his duty for its own sake, the more sensible of the claims 
of mankind upon him for such precepts of virtuous living 
as he had to give. In an age of unbelief and compromise 
he taught that Truth was positive and Virtue objective. 
He conceived, what never entered Cicero’s mind, the idea 
of improving his fellow-creatures ; he had, what Cicero 
bad not, a heart for conversion to Christianity.” 

To this eloquent accoimt of Seneca’s position and of the 
tendency of his writings I have nothing to add. The 
main particulars of his life, his Spanish e;xtraction (like 
that of Lacan and Martial), his father’s treatises on 
Rhetoric, his mother Helvia, his brothers, his wealth, his 
exile in .Corsica, his outrageous flattery of Claudius and 
his, satiric poem, on his death — “ The Vision of Judgment,” 
Merivale calls it, after Lord Byron — his position as Nero’s 
tutor, and his death, worthy at once of a Roman and a 
Stoic, by the orders of that tyrant, may be read of in 
“ The History of the Romans under the Empire,” or in the 
article “ Seneca ” in the “ Dictionary of Classical Bio- 
graphy,” and need not be reproduced here : but I cannot 
resist pointing out how entirely Hrote’s view of the 
“ Sophists ” as a sort of established clergy, and Seneca’s 
account of the various sects of philosophers as representing 
the religious thought of the time, is illustrated by his 
anecdote of Julia Augusta, the mother of Tiberius, better 
known to English readers as Livia the wife of Augustus, 
who in her first agony of grief at the loss of her first hus- 
band applied to his Greek philosopher, Areus, as to a kind 
of domestic chaplain, for spiritual consolation. (“Ad 
Marciam de Consqlatione,” ch. iif.) 

take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to the 



PEEFACE. 


xi 


Eev. J. E. B. Mayor, Professor of Latin in tlie University of 
Cambridge, for bis kindness in finding time among his 
many and important literary labours for reading and cor- 
recting the proofs of this work. 

The text which I have followed for Be Beneficiis is that 
of G-ertz, Berlin (1876 ). 

Atjbet:y Stewart. 

London, March^ 1887, 




CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Book I, The prevalence of ingratitude— How a benefit ought 
to be bestowed— The three Graces — Benefits are the chief 
bond of human society — What we owe in return for a benefit 
received— A benefit consists not of a thing but of the wish to 
do good— Socrates and Aeschines— What kinds of benefits 
should be bestowed, and in what manner— Alexander and the 

franchise of Corinth 1 

Book II. Many men give through weakness of character— We 
ought to give before our friends ask — Many benefits are 
spoiled by the manner of the giver— Marius Nepos and 
Tiberius— Some benefits should be given secretly— We must 
not give what would harm the receiver — Alexander’s gift of 
a city — Interchange of benefits like a game of ball— From 
whom ought one to receive a benefit ? — Examples — How to 
receive a benefit— Ingratitude caused by self-love, by greed, * 
or by jealousy— Gratitude and repayment not the same thing 

—Phidias and the statue 21 

Book III. Ingratitude— Is it worse to be ungrateful for kindness 
or not even to remember it ? — Should ingratitude^ be punisjhed;^ 
by law ?— Can a slave bestow a benefit ?— Can a son bestow a 

benefit upon his father ? — Examples 63 

Book IV. Whether the bestowal of benefits and the return of 
gratitude for them are desirable objects in themselves ? Does 
God bestow benefits ?— How to choose the man to be benefited 
—We ought not to look for any return— True gratitude— 

Of keeping one’s promise — Philip and the soldier— Zeno 86 
Book V. Of being worsted in a contest of benefits— Socrates 
and Archolaus— Whether a man can be grateful to himself, or 
ran bestow a benefit upoif himself— Exampjes of ingratitude 
—Dialogue on ingratitude— Whether one should remind one’s 



CONTENTS. 


PAGB 

,firi€!rids of what one has done for tliem— Caesai! and the 
soldier — Tiber ins , . . . . . .123 

Book VI, • Whether a benefit can be taken from one by foi'ce— 
Benefits dbbelid ttpon thought-— We arc nut grateful for the_ 
advanj:p,ges which we rwseive from inanimate Nature, or from 
dffodj aiymals-»In order to lay me under an obligation yoii 
A>u«t'%enctit me ‘ intentionally— Cleanthes’s story of the two 
slaves— Of benefits given in a , mercenary spirit — Physicians 
and teachers bestow enormous -benefits, yet are sufficiently 
paid by a moderate fee — Plato and the ferryman — Are we 
under an obligation to the sun and moon ? — Ought we to wish 
thatevil may befall our benefactors, in order that we may show 

our gratitude by helping them ? 156 

Book VII. The cynic bemetrius— his rules of conduct— Of the 
truly wise man — Whether one who has done everything in 
his power to return a benefit has returned it — Ought one to 
return a benefit to a bad man?— The Pythagorean and the 
shoemaker— How one tuight to bear wdth the ungrat-f ' 196 



L. A. SENECA 

ON BENEFITS, 

DEDICATED TO 

AIBUTIUS LIBEEALIS. 
Book I. 


I. 

A mong the numerous faults of those who pass their 
lives recklessly and without due reflexion, my good 
friend Liberalis, I should say that there is hardly any one 
so hurtful to society as this, that we neither know how to 
bestow or how to receive a benefit. It follows from this 
that benefits are badly invested, and become bad debts : 
in these cases it is too late to complain of their not being 
returned, for they were thrown away when, we bestowed 
them. Nor need we wonder that while the greatest vices are 
common, none is more common than ingratitude : for this 
I see is brought about by various causes. The first of 
these is, that we do not choose worthy persons upon whom 
to bestow our bounty, but although when we are about to 
lend money we first make a careful enquiry into the means 
and habits of life of our debtor, and avoid sowing seed in 
a worn-out or ur^ruitful soil, yet without any discrimina- 
tion we scatter our benefits at randorvi T*fl,+her than bestow 
them. It is hard to say whether it its mure dishonourable 



ON BENEFITS. 


[be. t ' 


for tiie receiw disown a benefit, or for (the giver to 
demand a returns .it : for a benefit is a loan, tbe repaj- 
ment of wbicb depends merely upon the good feeling of the 
debtor. To .,;i^isufee a benefit like a spendthrift is most 
shameftti ’ftanse we do not need our wealth but only our 
intention to set us free from the obligation of it; for a 
benefit is repaid by being acknowledged. Yet while they 
are to blame who do not even show so much gratitude as 
to acknowledge their debt, we ourselves are to blame no 
less. We find many men ungrateful, yet we make more 
men so, because at one time we harshly and reproachfully 
demand some return for our bounty, at another we are 
fickle and regret what we have given, at another we are 
peevish and apt to find fault with trifles. By acting thus 
we destroy all sense of gratitude, not only after we have 
given anything, but wliile we are in the act of giving it. 
"Who has ever thought it enough to be asked for anything 
in an off-hand manner, or to be asked only once ? Who, 
when he suspected that he was going to be asked for any 
thing, has not frowned, turned away his face, pretended to 
be bu8y,«or purposely talked without ceasing, in order not 
to give his suitor a chance of preferring his request, and 
avoided by various tricks having to help his friend in his 
pressing need ? and when driven into a comer, has not 
either |)ut the matter off, that is, given a cowardly re- 
fusal, or promised his help ungraciously, with a wry face, 
and with unkind words, of which he seemed to grudge the 
utterance, Yet no one is glad to ow;e what he has not 
so much received from his benefactor, as wrung out of 
him. Who can be grateful for what has, been disdainfully 
flung to him, or angrily cast at him, or been given him out 
of weariness, to avoid further trouble? No one need 
expect any return from those whom he has tired out with 
delays, or sickened with expectation- A benefit is received 
in the same temper m which it is given, and ought not, 



'I. 


ON BENEFITS. 


.therefore, oo he given carelessly, for a man thanhs liim- 
self for that which he receives without the knowledge of 
the giver. Neither ought we to give- after long delay, 
because in all good offices the will of the giver counts for 
mr 3h, and he who gives tardily must long halve been un- 
Vrilling to give at all. Nor, assuredly, ought we to give in 
an offensive manner, because human nature is so consti- 
tuted that insults sink dehper than kindnesses ; the re- 
membrance of the latter soon passes away, while that of the 
former is treasured in the memory ; so what can a man 
expect who insults while he obliges ? All tlie gratitude 
which he deserves is to be forgiven for helping us. On the 
other hand, the number of the ungrateful ought not to deter 
us from earning men’s gratitude ; for, in the first place, 
their number is increased by our own acts. Secondly, the 
sacrilege and indifference to religion of some men does not 
prevent even the immortal gods from continuing to shower 
their benefits upon us; for they act according to their 
divine nature and help all alike, among them even those 
who so ill appreciate their bounty. Let us take them for 
our guides as far as the weakness of our mortal nature 
permits ; let us bestow benefits, not put them out at inte- 
rest. The man who while he gives thinks of what he will 
get in return, deserves to be deceived. But what if the bene- 
fit turns out ill ? Why, our wives and ouv children often 
disappoint our hopes, yet we marry and bring up children, 
and are so obstinate in the face of experience that we fight 
after we have been beaten, and put to sea after we have 
been shipwrecked. How much more constancy ought we 
to show in bestowing benefits ! If a man does not bestow 
benefit^ because he has not received any, he must have 
bestowed them in order to receive them in return, and he 
justifies ingratitude, whose disgrace lies in net Returning 
benefits when able to do so. How manv are there who are 
imworthy of the light of day? ana nevertheless the sun 



4 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. I. 


rises. How many complain because they have lieen born ? 
yet Nature is ever renewing our race, and even suffers men 
to live who wish that they had never lived. It is tlie pro- 
perty of a great and good mind to covet, not the fruit ‘of 
good deeds, but good deeds themselves, and to seek for a 
good man even after having met with bad men. If there 
were no rogues, what glory would there be in doing good 
to many ? As it is, virtue consists in bestowing benefits 
for which we are not certain of meeting with any return, 
but whose fruit is at once enjoyed by noble minds. So 
'''ttle influence ought this to have in restraining us from 
doing good actions, that even though I were denied the 
hope of meeting with a grateful man, yet the fear of not 
having my benefits returned would not prevent iny bestow- 
ing them, because he who does not give, forestalls the vice 
of him who is ungrateful. I will explain what I mean. 
He who does not repay a benefit, sins more, but he who 
does not bestow one, sins earlier. 

“ If tliou at random dost thy bounties waste, 

Much must be lost, for one that’s rightly placed.” 

JI. In the former verse you may blame two things, for 
one should not cast them at random, and it is not right to 
waste anything, much less benefits; for unless they be 
given with judgement, they cease to be benefits, and may 
be called by any other name you please. The meaning of 
the latter verse is admirable, that one benefit rightly be- 
stowed makes amends for the loss of many that have .been 
lost. See, I pray you, whether it be not truer and more 
worthy of the glory of the giver, that we should encourage 
him to give, even though none of his gifts should be 
wortliily placed. “ Much must be lost.'* Nothing is lost, 
because he . wjio loses had counted the cost before. The 
book-keeping of bei^efits is simple.: it is all expenditure ; 
if any one returns it, that is clear gain j if he does not 



ON BENEFITS. 


5 


CH. m.] 


return it, it'is not lost, I gave it for the sake of giving. No 
one writes down his gifts in a ledger, or like a grasping 
creditor demands repayment to the day and hour. A 
gooa man never thinks of such matters, unless reminded of 
theia by some one returning his gifts ; otherwise they become 
like debts owing to him. It is a base usury to regard a 
benefit as an investment. Whatever may have been tlie 
result of your former benefits, persevere in bestowing 
others upon other men ; they will be all the better placed 
in the hands of the ungrateful, whom shame, or a favour- 
able opportunity, or imitation of others may some day 
cause to be grateful. Do not grow weary, perform your 
duty, and act as becomes a good man. Help one man witli 
money, another with credit, another with your favour; 
this man with good advice, that one with sound maxims. 
Even wild beasts feel kindness, nor is there any animal so 
savage that good treatment will not tame it and win love 
from it. The mouths of lions are handled by their keepers 
with impunity ; to obtain their food fierce elephants become 
as docile as slaves : so that constant unceasing kindness 
wins the hearts even of creatures who, by their nature, 
cannot comprehend or weigh the value of a benefit. Is 
man ungrateful for one benefit ? perhaps he will not bo so 
after receiving a second. Has he forgotten two kind- 
nesses ? perhai)s by a third he may be brought to remem- 
ber the former ones also. 

HI. He who is quick to believe that he has thrown away 
his benefits, does really throw them away ; but he who 
presses on and adds new benefits to his former ones, forces 
out gratitude even from a hard and forgetful breast. In 
the face of many kindnesses, your friend will not dare to 
raise his eyes ; let him see you whithersoever he turns him- 
self to escape from his remembrance of you; encircle 
him with your benefits. ^ As for thft poAver and pro- 
perty of these, I will explain it to you if first you will 



ON BENEFITS. 


r> 


[be. I. 


allow me to glance at a matter which does noi belong to 
our subject, as to why the Graces are three in pumber, 
why they are sisters, why hand in hand, and why they are 
smiling and young, with a loose and transparent driss. 
Some writers think that there is one who bestows a benefit, 
one who receives it, and a third who returns it ; others 
say that they represent the three sorts of benefactors, those 
wlm bestoAV, those who repay, and those who both receive 
and repay them. But take whichever you jdease to be 
true ; what will this knoAvledge profit us ? "Vyhat is the 
meaning of this dance of sisters in a circle, hand in hand? 
It means that the course of a benefit is from hand to hand, 
back to the giver ; that the beauty of the whole chain is 
lost if a single link fails, and that it is fairest when it pro- 
ceeds in unbroken regular order. In the dance there is one 
esteemed beyond the others, who represents the givers of 
benefits. Their faces are cheerful, as those of men who give 
or receive benefits are wont to be. They are young, because 
tlie memory of benefits ought not to grow old. They are 
virgins, Ijecause benefits are pure and untainted, and held 
holy by all ; in benefits there should be no strict or binding 
conditions, therefore the Graces wear loose flowing tunics, 
A^^hich are transparent, because benefits love to be seen. 
People who are not under tlie influence of Greek literature 
may say that all this is a matter of course ; but there can 
be no one Avho would think that the names which Hesiod 
has given them bear upon our subject. He named the 
eldest Aglaia, the middle one Euphrosyne, the tliird Thalia. 
Every one, according to his oAvn ideas, twists the meaning 
of these names, trying to reconcile them with some sy stem j 
though Hesiod merely gave his maidens their names from 
his own fancy, So Homer altered the name of one of them, 
naming her Pasithea, and betrothed her to a husband, in 
order that you may know that they are not vestal virgins.^ 
ie, not vowed to chastity, 



ON BENEFITS. 


7 


CH. TV.] 

I could find’another poet, in wliose writings they are girded, 
and wear thick or embroidered Phrygian robes. Mercury 
stands with them for the same reason, not because argu- 
meaii or eloquence commends benefits, but because tlie 
painter chose to do so. Also Clirysippus, that man of 
piercing intellect who saw to the very bottom of truth, who 
speaks only to the point, and makes use of no more words 
than are. necessary to express his meaning, fills his whole 
treatise with these puerilities, insomuch that he says but 
very little about the duties of giving, receiving, and return- 
ing a benefit, and has not so much inserted fables among 
these subjects, as he has inserted these subjects among a 
mass of fables. For, not to mention what Hecaton borrows 
from him, Chrysippus tells us that the three Graces are the 
daughters of Jupiter and Eurynome, that they are younget 
than the Hours, and rather more beautiful, and that on 
that account they are assigned as companions to Venus. 
He also thinks that the name of their mother bears upon 
the subject, and that she is named Eurynome because to 
distribute benefits requires a wide inheritance ; as if the 
mother usually received her name after her daughters, or as 
if the names given by poets were true. In truth, j ust as wiUi 
a ‘ nomenclator’ audacity sujTplies the place of memory, and 
he invents a name for every one whose name he cannot re- 
collect, so the poets think that it is of no importance to 
speak the truth, but are either forced by the exigencies of 
metre, or attracted by sweetness of sound, into calling every 
one by whatever name runs neatly into verse. Hor do 
they suffer for it if they introduce another name into the 
list, for the next poet makes them bear what name he 
pleases. That you may know that this is so, for instance 
Thalia, our present subject of discourse, is one qI the Graces 
in Hesiod’s poems, while in those of Homer she is one of 
the Muses. 

TV. But lest I should do the vf^rv thing which I am 



8 ON BENEFITS. [BK. I. 

blaming, I will pass over all these matters, tlrliich are so 
far from the subject that they are not even connected with 
it. Only do you protect me, if any one attacks’ me for 
putting down Chrysippus, who, by Hercules, was a gj’eat 
man, but yet a Oreek, whose intellect, too sharply pointed, 
is often bent and turned back upon itself ; even when it 
seems to be in earnest it only pricks, but does not pierce. 
Here, however, what occasion is there for subtlety? We 
are to speak of benefits, and to define a matter which 
is the chief bond of human society ; we are to lay down 
a rule of life, such that neither careless openhandedness 
may commend itself to us under the guise of goodness 
of heart, and yet that our circumspection, while it mode- 
rates, may not quench our generosity, a quality in which 
we ought neither to exceed nor to fall short. Men must 
be taught to be willing to give, willing to receive, willing 
to return ; and to place before themselves the high aim, 
not merely of equalling, but even of surj^assing those to 
whom they are indebted, both in good offices and in good 
feeling ; because the man whose duty it is to repay, can 
never do so unless he out-does his benefactor;^ the one 
class must be taught to look for no return, the other to 
feel deeper gratitude. In this noblest of contests to outdo 
benefits by benefits, Chrysippus encourages us by bidding 
us beware lest, as the Craces are the daughters of Jupiter, 
to act ungratefully may not bo a sin against them, and 
may not wrong those beauteous maidens. Ho thou teach 
me how I may bestow more good things, and be more 
grateful to those who have earned my gratitude, and how 
the minds of both parties may vie with one another, the 
giver in forgetting, the receiver in remembering his debt. 
As for those other follies, let them be left to the poets, 
whose purpose is merely to charm the ear and to weave a 
^ That is, he never comes up to his benefactor unless he leaves him 
behind : he can only make a dead heat of it by getting a start. 



CH, V.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


pleasing sto^y ; but let those who wish to purify men’s 
minds, to retain honour in their dealmgs, and to imprint 
on their fiiinds gratitude for kindnesses, let them speak in 
sober earnest and act with all their strength ; unless you 
imagine, perchance, that by such flippant and mythical 
talk, and such old y^ives’ reasoning, it is possible for us to 
prevent that most ruinous consummation, the repudiation 
of benefits. \ 

V. However, while I pass over what is futile and irrele- 
vant, I must point out that the first thing which we have 
to learn is, what we owe in return for a benefit received. 
One man says that he owes the money which he has re- 
ceived, another that he owes a consulship, a priesthood, a 
pfovince, and so on. These, however, are but the outward 
signs of kindnesses, not the kindnesses themselves. A 
benefit is not to be felt and handled, it is a thing which 
exists only in the mind. There is a great difference be- 
tween the subject-matter of a benefit, and the benefit 
itself. "Wherefore neither gold, nor silver, nor any of those 
things which are most highly esteemed, are benefits, but the 
benefit lies in the goodwill of him who gives them. The 
ignorant take notice only of that which comes before their, 
eyes, and which can be owned and passed from hand to hand, 
while tliey disregard that Avhich gives these things their value. 
The things which we hold in our hands, which we see with 
our eyes, and which our avarice hugs, are transitory, they 
gray be taken from us by ill luck or by violence ; but a 
kindness lasts even after the loss of that by means of 
which it was bestowed ; for it is a good deed, which no 
violence can undo. For instance, suppose that I ransomed 
a friend from pirates, but another pirate has caught him 
and thrown him into prison. The pirate has not robbed 
him of my benefit, but has only robbed him of the 
enjoyment t)f it. Or suppose that I h^ve saved a man’s 
children from a shipwreck or a fire, and that afterwards 



disease or accident has carried them off ; e-v^^n when they 
are no more, the kindness which was done by means of 
them remains. All those things, therefore, 'vlfhich im- 
properly assume the name of benefits, are means by which 
kindly feeding manifests itself. In other cases also, we 
find a distinction between the visible symbol and the 
matter itself, as when a general bestows collars of gold, 
or civic or mural crowns upon any one. What value 
has the crown in itself ? or the purple-bordered robe ? or 
the fasces? or the judgment-seat and car of triumph? 
None of these things is in itself an honour, but is an 
einl)lem of honour. In like manner, that which is seen is 
not a benefit — it is but the trace and mark of a benefit. 

VI. What, then, is a benefit ? It is the art of doing a 
kindness which both bestows pleasure and gains it by be- 
stowing it, and which does its office by natural, and spon- 
taneous impulse. It is not, therefore, the thing which is 
done or given, but the spirit in which it is done or given, 
that must be considered, because a benefit exists, not in 
that which is done or given, but in the mind of the doer 
or giver. How great the distinction between them is, you 
may perceive from this, that while a benefit is necessarily 
good, yet that which is done or given is neither good nor 
bad. The spirit in which they are given can exalt small 
things, can glorify mean ones, and can discredit great and 
precious ones; the objects themselves which are sought 
after have a neutral nature, neither good nor bad; all 
depends upon the direction given them by the guiding 
spirit from which things receive their shape. That which 
is paid or handed over is not the benefit itself, just as the 
honour wliich we pay to the ' gods lies not in the victims 
themselves, although they be fat and glittering with gold,‘ 
but in the pure and holy feelings of the worshippers. 


1 Alluding to the practice of gilding tlie horns of the victims. 



cm VII.] 


ON BENEFITS, 


11 


Thus good men are reKgioiis, though their offering he 
meal and their vessels of earthenware ; whilst had men will 
not escape irom their impiety, though they pour the blood 
of imuiy victims upon the altars. 

VII. If benefits consisted of things, and not of the wish 
to benefit, then the more things we received the greater 
the benefit would be. But this is not true, for sometimes 
we feel more gratitude to one who gives us trifles nobly, 
one who, like Virgil’s poor old soldier, “holds himself as 
ricli as kings,” if he has given us ever so little with a good 
will ; a man who forgets his own need when he sees mine, 
who has not only a wish but a longing to help, who thinks 
that ho receives a benefit when he bestows one, who gives 
as though he would receive no return, receives a repay- 
ment as tliough he had originally given nothing, and who 
watches for and seizes an opportunity of being useful. 
On the other hand, as I said before, those gifts which are 
hardly wrung from the giver, or which drop unheeded 
from his hands, claim no gratitude from us, however great 
they may appear and may be. We prize much more what 
comes from a willing hand, than what comes from a full 
one. This man has given me but little, yet more ho 
could not afford, while what that one has given is much 
indeed, but he hesitated, he put it off, he grumbled when 
he gave it, he gave it haughtily, or he proclaimed it aloud, 
and did it to please others, not to please the person to 
whom he gave it ; he offered it to his own pride, not to me. 

Vin. As the pupils of Socrates, each in proportion to 
his means, gave him large presents, Aeschines, a poor pupil, 
said, “ 1 can find nothing to give you which is worthy of 
you ; I feel my poverty in this respect alone. Therefore I 
present you with the only thing I possess, myself. I pray 
that you may take this my present, such as it is, in good 
part, and may remembeV that the otliyers, although they 
gave YOU much, vet left for themselves more than they 



12 


ON BENEFITS. 


1_BK. I. 


gave.” Socrates answered, ** Surely you have "bestowed a 
great present upon me, unless perchance you a small 
value upon yourself. I will accordingly take pains to 
restore you to yourself a better man than when I received 
you.” By this present Aeschines outdid Alcibiades, whose 
mind was as great as his wealth, and all the splendour of 
the most wealtliy youths of Athens. 

IX. You see how the mind even in the straitest circum- 
stances finds the means of generosity. Aeschines seems to 
me to have said, “ Fortune, it is in vain that you have 
made me poor ; in spite of this I will find a worthy pre- 
sent for this man. Since I can give him nothing of yours, I 
will give him something of my own.” Nor need you sup- 
pose that he held himself cheap ; he made himself his own 
price. By a stroke of genius this youth discovered a means 
of presenting Socrates to himself. We must not consider 
how great presents are, but in what spirit they are given. 

A rich man is well spoken of if he is clever enough to 
render himself easy of access to men of immoderate ambi- 
tion, and although he intends to do nothing to help them, 
yet encourages their unconscionable hopes ; but he ^is 
thought the worse of if he be sharp of tongue, sour in 
ap])earance, and displays his wealth in an invidious fashion. 
For men respect and yet loathe a fortunate man, and hate 
him for doing wliat, if they had the chance, they would do 
tliemselves. 

Men nowadays no longer secretly, but openly outrage 
the wives of others, and allow to others access to their own 
wives. A match is thought countrified, uncivilized, in bsid 
style, and to be protested against by all matrons, if the hus- 
band should forbid his wife to appear in public in a litter, 
and to be carried about exposed to the gaze of all observers. 
If a man has not made himself nbtorious by a liawon with 
gome mistress, if he does not pay an annuity to some one 



CH. X.J ON BENEFITS, J-O 

else’s wife, married women speak of him as a poor-spirited 
creature, a man given to low vice, a lover of servant girls. 
Soon adulfeiy becomes the most respectable form of mar- 
riage, and widowhood and celibacy are commonly practised. 
No one takes a wife unless he takes her away from some 
one else. Now men vie with one another in wasting what 
they have stolen, and in collecting together what they have 
wasted with the keenest avarice; they become utterly 
reckless, scorn poverty in others, fear personal injury more 
than anything else, break the peace by their riots, and by 
violence and terror domineer over those who are weaker 
than themselves. No wonder that they plunder provinces 
and offer the seat of judgment for sale, knocking it down 
after an auction to the highest bidder, since it is the law 
of nations that you may sell what you have bought. 

X. However, my enthusiasm has carried me further 
than I intended, the subject being an inviting one. Let 
me, then, end by pointing out that the disgrace of these 
crimes does not belong especially to our own time. Our 
ancestors before us have lamented, and our children after 
us will lament, as we do, the ruin of morality, the preva- 
lence of vice, and the gradual deterioration of mankind ; 
[^et these things are really stationary, only moved slightly 
to and fro like the waves which at one time a rising tide 
washes further over the land, and at another an ebbing 
one restrains within a lower water mark. At one time the 
chief vice will be adultery, and licentiousness will exceed 
all bounds ; at another time a rage for feasting will be in 
vogue, and men will waste their inheritance in the most 
shameful of all ways, by the kitchen ; at another, exces- 
sive care for the body, and a devotion to personal beauty 
which implies ugliness of mind ; at another time, injudi- 
ciously granted liberty will show itself in wanton reckless- 
ness and defiance of authowty; sometimes there will be a 
reign of cruelty both in public and private, and the mad- 



14 


ON BENEFITS. 


Lbk. I. 


ness of tlie civil wars will come upon us, wmcn destroy ajl 
that is holy and inviolable. Sometimes even drunkenneBS 
will be held in honour, and it will be a virtue to swallow 
most wine. Vices do not lie in wait for us in one. place 
alone, but hover around us in changeful forms, sometimes 
even at variance one with another, so that in turn they 
win and lose the field; yet we shall always be obliged 
to pronounce the same verdict upon ourselves, that we 
are and always were evil, and, I unwillingly add, that 
we always shall be. There always will be homicides, 
tyrants, thieves, adulterers, ravishers, sacrilegious, traitors : 
worse than all these is the ungrateful man, except we con- 
sider that all these crimes flow from ingratitude, without 
which hardly any great wickedness has ever grown to full 
stature. Be sure that you guard against this as the greatest 
of crimes in yourself, but pardon it as the least of crimes 
in another. For all the injury which you suffer is this t you 
have lost the subject-matter of a benefit, not the benefit it- 
self, for you possess unimpaired the best part of it, in that 
you have given it. Though we ought to be careful to bestow 
our benefits by preference upon those who are likely to 
show us gratitude for them, yet we must sometimes do 
wliat we have little hope will turn out well, and bestow' 
benefits upon those wlio we not only think will prove 
ungrateful, but who we know have been so. For instance, 
if I should be able to save a man’s children from a great 
(hinger with no risk to myself, I should not hesitate to do 
so. If a man be worthy I would defend him. even with 
my blood, and would share his perils ; if he be unworthy, 
and yet by merely crying for help I can rescue him from 
robbers, I would without reluctance raise the shout which 
would saye a fellow-creature. 

XL The next point to be defined is, what kind of bene- 
fits are to be g^ven, and in what manner. First let us 
give what is necessary, next what is useful, and then what 



CH. XI.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


15 


is pleasant, provided that they he lasting. We must begin 
with wIiM.t is necessar}’:, for those things which support life 
affect the mind very differently from those which adorn 
and ilnprove it. A man may be nice, and hard to please, 
in things which he can easily do without, of which he can 
say, “ Take them back ; I do not want them, I am satis- 
fied with what lihave.” Sometimes we wish not only to 
return %hat we have received, but even to throw it away. 
Of necessary things, the first class consists of things with- 
out which we cannot live ; the second, of things without 
which we ought not to live ; and the third, of things with- 
out which we should not care to live. Tlie first class are, 
to be saved from the hands of the enemy, from the anger 
of tyrants, from proscription, and the various other perils 
which beset human life. By averting any one of these, we 
shall earn gratitude proportionate to the greatness of the 
danger, for when men think of the greatness of the misery 
from which they have been saved, the terror which they 
have gone through enhances the value of our services. 
Yet we ought not to delay rescuing any one longer than 
we are obliged, solely in order to make his fears add 
weight to our services. Next come those things with- 
out which we can indeed live, but in such a manner that 
it would be better to die, such as liberty, chastity, or a 
good conscience. After these are what we have come to 
hold dear by connexion and relationship and long use and 
custom, such as our wives and children, our household 
gods, and so on, to which the mind so firmly attaches itself 
that separation from them seems worse than death. 

After these come useful things, which form a very wide 
and varied class ; in which will be money, not in excess, 
bjit enough for living in a moderate style ; public office, 
and, for the ambitious, due advancement to higher posts ; 
for nothing can be more* useful to a jnan than to be 
placed in a position in which he can benefit himself. All 



16 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. I. 


benefits beyond these are superfluous, ana are likely to 
spoil those who receive them. In giving these we must 
be careful to make them acceptable by giving tllem at the 
ai)propriate time, or by giving things which are not common, 
but such as few people possess, or at any rate few possess in 
our times ; or again, by giving things in such a manner, 
that though not naturally valuable, they hecome so by the 
time and place at which they are given. We must reflect 
what present will produce the most pleasure, what will 
most frequently come under the notice of the possessor of 
it, so that whenever he is with it he may be with us also ; 
and in all cases we must be careful not to send useless 
presents, such as hunting weapons to a woman or old man, 
or books to a rustic, or nets to catch wild animals to a 
quiet literary man. On the other hand, we ought to be 
careful, while we wish to send what will please, that we 
do not send what will insultingly remind our friends of 
their failings, as, for example, if we send wine to a hard 
drinker or drugs to an invalid, for a present which con- 
tains an allusion to the shortcomings of the receiver, 
becomes an outrage. 

XII. If we have a free choice as to what to give, we 
should above all choose lasting presents, in order that opr 
gift may endure as long as possible ; for few are so grate- 
ful as to think of what they have received, even when they 
do not see it. Even the ungrateful remember us by our 
gifts, when they are always in their sight and do not allow 
themselves to be forgotten, but constantly obtrude and 
stamp upon the mind the memory of the giver. As we 
never ought to remind men of what we have given them, 
we ought all the more to choose presents that will be per- 
manent ; for the things themselves will prevent the remem- 
brance of the giver from fading away. I would more wil- 
lingly give a present of plate than of coined money, and 
would more willingly give statues than clothes or other 



CH. XIII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


17 


tilings wliicli itie soon worn out. Few remain grateful after 
the present is gone : many more remember their presents 
only while they make use of them. If possible, I should 
like my present not to be consumed ; let it remain in exis- 
tence, let it stick to my friend and share his life. No one 
is so foolish as to need to be told not to send gladiators or 
wild besists to one who has just given a public show, or not 
to send summer clothing in winter time, or winter clothing 
in summer. Common sense must guide our benefits ; we 
must consider the time and the place, and the character of 
tlie receiver, which are the weights in the scale, which cause 
our gifts to be well or ill received. How far more accept- 
able a present is, if we give a man what he has not, than 
if we give him what he has plenty of! if we give him 
what he has long been searching for in vain, rather than 
what he sees everywhere ! Let us make presents of things 
which are rare and scarce rather than costly, things which 
even a rich man will be glad of, just as common fruits, 
such as we tire of after a few days, please us if they 
have ripened before the usual season. People will also 
esteem things which no one else has given to them, or 
which we have given to no one else. 

Xin. When the conquest of the East had flattered 
Alexander of Macedon into believing himself to be more 
than,, man, the people of Corinth sent an embassy to con- 
gratulate him, and presented him with the franchise of 
their city. When Alexander smiled at this form of cour- 
tesy, one of the ambassadors said, “We have never en* 
rolled any stranger among our citizens except Hercules and 
yourself.” Alexander willingly accepted the proffered 
honour, invited the ambassadors to his table, and showed 
them other courtesies. He did not think of who offered the 
citizenship, but to whom they had granted it; and being 
altogether the slave of glory, though he. knew neither its 
true, nature or its limits, had followed in the footsteps of 



18 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. I. 


Hercules and Bacchus, and had not even stayed his march 
where they ceased ; so that he glanced aside from the givers 
of this honour to him. with whom he shared it, a'hd fancied 
that the heaven to which his vanity aspired was indeed 
opening before him when he was made equal to Hercules. 
In what indeed did that frantic youth, whose only merit 
was his lucky audacity, resemble Hercules ? Hercules 
conquered nothing for himself ; he travelled throughout 
the world, not coveting for himself but liberating the 
countries which he conquered, an enemy to bad men, ei, 
defender of the good, a peacemaker both by sea and land ; 
whereas the other was from his boyhood a brigand and 
desolator of nations, a pest to his friends and enemies alike, 
whose greatest joy was to be the terror of all mankind, 
forgetting that men fear not only the fiercest but also the 
most cowardly animals, because of their evil and venomous 
nature. 

XIV. Let us now return to our subject. He who bestows 
a benefit without discrimination, gives what pleases no 
one ; no one considers himself to he under any obligation 
to the landlord of a tavern, or to he the guest of any one 
with whom lie dines in such company as to be able to say. 
What civility has he shown to me ? no more than he has 
shown to that man, whom he scarcely knows, or to that 
other, who is both his personal enemy and a man of infa- 
mous character. Do you suppose that he wished to do me 
any honour ? not so, he merely wished to indulge his own 
vice of profusion.” If you wish men to be grateful for 
anything, give it but seldom ; no one can bear to receive 
what you give to all the world. Yet let no one gather from 
this that I wish to impose any bonds upon generosity ; let 
her go to what lengths she will, so that she go a steady 
course, not at random. It is possible to bestow gifts in 
siich a manner that each of those who receive them, al- 
though he shares them with many others, may yet feel 



CH. XV.J ON BENEFITS. iV 

himself to be 'distinguished from the common herd. Let 
each man have some peculiarity about his gift whi<;li may 
make him^jonsider himself more highly favoured than tlie 
rest. . He may say, “ I received the same present that he 
did, but I never asked for it.” “ I received the same pre- 
sent, but mine was given me after a few days, whereas he 
had earned it by long service.” “ Others have the same 
present, but it was not given to them with the same cour- 
tesy and gracious words with which it was given to me.” 
“That man got it because he asked for it ; I did not ask.” 
“ That man received it as well as I, but then he could easily 
return it ; one has great expectations from a rich man, old 
and childless, as he is ; whereas in giving the same present 
to me he really gave more, because he gave it without the hope 
of receiving any return for it.” Just as a courtesan divides 
her favours among many men, so that no one of her friends 
is without some proof of her affection, so let him who wishes 
his benefits to be prized consider liow he may at the same 
time gratify many men, and nevertheless give each one of 
them some especial mark of favour to distinguish him 
from the rest. 

XV. I am no advocate of slackness in giving benefits : 
the more and the greater they are, the more praise they 
will bring to the giver. Yet let them be given with 
discretion ; for what is given carelessly and recklessly can 
please no one. Whoever, therefore, supposes that in giving 
this advice I wish to restrict benevolence and to confine it 
to narrower limits, entirely mistakes the object of my 
warning. Wliat virtue do we admire more than benevo- 
lence? Which do we encourage more? Who ought to 
applaud it more than we Stoics, who preach the brother- 
hood of the human race? What then is it? Since no im- 
pulse of the human mind can be approved of, even though 
it springs from a right feeling, unless it be made into a 
virtue by discretion, I forbid generosity to degenerate into 



OW BENEFITS. 


[BK. I. 


extravagance. It is, indeed, pleasant to receive a benefit 
witli open arms, when reason bestows it upon the worthy, 
not when it is flung hither or thither thoiightle^Wy and at 
ralidom ; this alone we care to display and claim as our 
own. Can you call anything a benefit, if you feel ashamed 
to mention the person who gave it you ? How far more 
grateful is a benefit, how far more deeply does it impress 
itself upon the mind, never to be forgotten, when we 
rejoice to thiiflir not so much of what it is, as from whom 
we have received it ! Crispus Passienus was wont to say 
that some men’s advice was to be preferred to their pre- 
sents, some men’s presents to their advice ; and he added 
as an example, “I would rather have received advice 
from Augustus than a present ; I would rather receive a 
present from Claudius than advice.” I, however, think that 
one ought not to wish for a benefit from any man whose 
judgement is worthless. What then ? Ought we not to 
receive what Claudius gives? We ought; but we ought 
to regard it as obtained from fortune, which may at any 
inoraent turn against us. Why do we separate this which 
natuiully is connected ? That is not a benefit, to which the 
best part of a benefit, that it be bestowed with judgment, 
is wanting : a really great sum of money, if it be given 
neither with discernment nor with good will, is no more a 
benefit than if it remained hoarded. There are, however, 
many things which we ought not to reject, yet for which 
we cannot feel indebted. 



Book II. 


I. 

L et us consider, most excellent Liberalis, wlmt still 
remains of the earlier part of the subject ; in what 
way a benefit should be bestowed. I think that I can 
point out the shortest way to this ; let us give in the way 
in which we ourselves should like to receive. Above all 
we should give willingly, quickly, and without any hesita- 
tion ; a benefit commands no gratitude if it has hung foi 
a long time in the hands of the giver, if he seems unwilling 
to part with it, and gives it as though he were being robbed 
of it. Even though some delay should intervene, let us 
by all means in our power strive not to seem to have been 
in two minds about giving it at all. To hesitate is the 
next thing to refusing to give, and destroys all claim to 
gratitude. Eor just as the sweetest jjart of a benefit is the 
kindly feeling of the giver, it follows that one who has by 
his very delay proved that he gives unwillingly, must be 
regarded not as having given anything, but as having been 
unable to keep it from an importunate suitor. Indeed, 
many men are made generous by want of firmness. The 
most acceptable benefits are those which are waiting for 
us to take them, which are easy to be received, and ofiVr 
themselves to us, so that the only delay is caused by tlie 
modesty of the receiver. The best thing of all is to antici- 
pate a person’s wishes ; the next, to follow them : the former 
is the better course, to be ^.eforehand with our friends by 
giving them what they want before they ask us for it, for 



22 


ON BENEFITS. 


1_BK. II. 


the value of a gift is much enhanced by sparing an honest 
man the misery of asking for it with confusion and blushes. 
He who gets what he asked for does not get it for nothing, 
for indeed, as our austere ancestors thought, nothing is so 
dear as that which is bought by prayers. Men would be 
much more modest in their petitions to heaven, if these had 
to be made publicly ; so that even when addressing the 
gods, before whom we can with all honour bend our knees, 
we prefer to pray silently and within ourselves, 

II. It is unpleasant, burdensome, and covers one with 
shame to have to say, “ Give me.” You should spare your 
friends, and those whom you wish to make your friends, 
from having to do this ; however quick he may be, a man 
gives too late who gives what he has been asked for. We 
ought, therefore, to divine every man’s wishes, and when 
we have discovered them, to set him free from the hard 
necessity of asking ; you may be sure that a benefit which 
comes unasked will be delightful and will not be forgotten. 
If we do not succeed in antici]:)ating our friends, let us at 
any rate cut them short when they ask us for anything, so 
that we may appear to be reminded of what we meant to 
do, rather than to have been asked to do it. Let us assent 
at once, and by our promptness make it appear that we 
meant to do so even before we were solicited. As in deal- 
ing with sick persons much depends upon when food is 
given, and plain water given at the right moment some- 
times acts as a remedy, so a benefit, however slight and 
commonplace it may be, if it be promptly given without 
losing a moment of time, gains enormously in importance, 
and wins our gratitude more than a far more valuable 
present given after long waiting and deliberation. One 
who gives so readily must needs give with good will ; he 
therefore gives cheerfully and shows his disposition in his 
countenance. 

III. Many who bestow immense benefits spoil them by 



0'S BENEFITS. 


2:3 


CH. IV.] 


their silence 'or slowness of speech, which gives them an 
air of moroseness, as they say “ yes ” with a face which 
seems to aay “ no.” How much better is it to join kind 
words to kind actions, and to enhance the value of our 
gifts by a civil and gracious commendation of them ! To 
cure your friend of befiig slow to ask a favpur of you, you 
may join to your gift the familiar rebuke, I am angry 
with you for not having long ago let me know what you 
wanted, for having asked for it so formally, or for having 
made interest with a third party.” “ I congratulate my- 
self that you have been pleased to make trial of me ; here- 
after, if you want anything, ask for it as your right ; how- 
ever, for this time I pardon your want of manners.” By 
so doing you will cause him to value your friendship more 
highly than that, whatever it may liave been, which he 
came to ask of you. The goodness and kindness (3f a bene- 
factor never appears so great as when on leaving him one 
says, “ I have to-day gained much ; I am more pleased at 
finding him so kind than if I had obtained many times 
more of this, of which I was speaking, by some other 
means ; I never can make any a.dequate return to this man 
fbr his goodness.” 

IV. Many, however, there are who, by harsh words and 
contenqjtuous manner, make their very kindnesses odious, 
for by speaking and acting disdainfully they make us 
sorry that they have granted our requests. Various delays 
also take place after we have obtained a promise ; and 
nothing is more heartbreaking than to be forced to beg 
for the very thing which you already have been promised. 
Benefits ought to be bestowed at once, but from some 
persons it is easier to obtain the promise of them than to 
get them. One man has to be asked to remind our bene- 
factor of his purpose ; another, to bring it into effect ; and 
thus a single present ia worn away in passing through 
many hands, until hsirdly a,ny gratitude is left for the 



24 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. II. 


original promiser, since whoever we are forced to solicit 
after the giving of the promise receives some of the grati- 
tude which we owe to the giver. Take care, therefore, if 
you wish your gifts to he esteemed, that they reach those 
to whom they are promised entire, and, as the saying is, 
without any deduction. Let no one intercept them or 
delay them ; for no one can take any share of the gratitude 
due for your gifts without robbing you of it. 

V. Nothingis more bitter than longuncertainty; some can 
bear to have their hopes extinguished better than to have 
them deferred. Yet many men are led by an unworthy 
vanity into this fault of putting off the accomplishment of 
their promises, merely in order to swell the crowd of their 
suitors, like the ministers of royalty, who delight in pro- 
longing the display of their own arrogance, hardly think- 
ing themselves possessed of power unless they let each 
man see for a long time how powerful they are. They do 
nothing 2>romptly, or at one sitting ; they are indeed swift 
to do mischief, but slow to do good. Be sure that the 
comic poet speaks the most absolute truth in the verses > 

“ Know you not this ? If you your gifts delay, 

You take thereby my gratitude away.” 

And the following lines, tlie expression of virtuous pain— 
a high-spirited man’s misery, — 

“ What thou doest, do quickly 

and : — 

“ Notliing in the world 
Is worth this trouble ; I had rather you 
liefused it to me now.” 

When the mind begins through weariness to hate the 
promised benefit, or while it is wavering in expectation of 
it, how can it feel grateful for it ? As the most refined 
cruelty is that which prolongs the torture, while to kill the 
victim at once is a kind of mency, since the extremity of 
torture brings its own end with it— the interval is the 



ON BENEFITS. 


25 


CH, VI.] 

worst part of tlie execution — so the shorter time a benefit 
hangs ill the balance, the more grateful it is to tlie 
receiver. It is possible to look forward with anxious 
disquietude even to good things, and, seeing that most 
ben'‘fits consist in a release from some form of misery, a 
a man destroys the value of the benefit which he confers, 
if he has the power to relieve us, and yet allows us to 
suffer or to lack pleasure longer than we need. Kindness 
is always eager to do good, and one who acts by love 
naturally acts at once ; he who does us good, but does it 
tardily and with long delays, does not do so from the heart. 
Thus he loses two most important things : time, and the 
proof of his good will to us ; for a lingering consent is 
but a form of denial. 

VI. The manner in which things are said or done, my 
Liberalis, forms a very important part of every transaction. 
We gain much by quickness, and lose much by slowness. 
Just as in darts, the strength of the iron head remains the 
sa^lll,:' but there is an immeasureable difference between 
the blow of one hurled with the full swing of the arm and 
one which merely drops from the hand, and the samu 
sword either grazes or pierces according as the blow is 
delivered ; so, in like manner, that which is given is the 
same, but the manner in which it is given makes the 
difference. How sweet, how precious is a gift, when he 
who gives does not permit himself to be thanked, and 
when while he gives he forgets that he has given! To 
reproach a man at the very moment that you are doing 
him a service is sheer madness ; it is to mix insult witli 
your favours. We ought not to make our benefits burden- 
some, or to add any bitterness to them. Even if there be 
some subject upon which you wish to warn your friend, 
choose some other time for doing so. 

VII, Fabius Verrucosus used to compare a benefit be- 
stowed by a harsh man in an offensive manner to a gritty 



26 


ON BENEFITS. 


[2K. II. 

loaf of bread, wliicb a hungry man is obliged to re- 
ceive, but which is painful to eat. When Marius Nepos 
of the praetorian guard asked Tiberius Caesar fbr help to 
pay his debts, Tiberius asked him for a list of his creditors ; 
this is calling a meeting of creditors, not paying debts. 
When the list was made out, Tiberius wrote to Nepos 
telling him that he bad ordered the money to be paid, and 
adding some offensive reproaches. The result of this was 
that Nepos owed no debts, yet received no kindness ; 
Tiberius, indeed, relieved him from his creditors, but laid 
him under no obligation. Tiberius, however, had some 
design in doing so ; I imagine he did not wish more of his 
friends to come to him with the same request. His mode 
of proceeding was, perhaps, successful in restraining men’s 
extravagant desires by shame, but he who wishes to confer 
benefits must follow quite a different path. In all ways 
you should make your benefit as acceptable as possible by 
presenting it in the most attractive form ; but the method 
of Tiberius is not to confer benefits, but to reproach. 

VIII. Moreover, if incidentally I should say what I 
think of this part of the subject, I do not consider that it 
is becoming even to an emperor to give merely in order to 
cover a man with shame. “And yet,” we are told, 
“ Tiberius did not even by this means attain his object ; 
for after this a good many persons were found to make the 
same request. He ordered all of them to explain the 
reasons of their indebtedness before the senate, and when 
they did so, granted them certain definite sums of money.” 
This is not an act of generosity, but a reprimand. You 
may call it a subsidy, or an imperial contribution ; it is 
not a benefit, for the receiver cannot think of it without 
sliame. I was summoned before a judge, and had to be 
tried at bar before I obtained what I asked for. 

IX. Accordingly;, all writers on* ethical philosophy tell us 
that some benefits ought to be given in secret, others in 



cn. X.] 


ox BENEFITS. 


27 


public. Tliose things which it is glorious to receive, such 
as military decorations or public ofl5.ces, and whatever else 
gains in value the more widely it is known, should be 
confen'ed in public; on the other hand, when they do not 
pi’or.^ote a man or add to his social standing, but help him 
when in weakness, in want, or in disgrace, they should be 
given silently, and so as to be known only to those who 
profit by them. 

X. Sometimes even the person who is assisted must bo 
deceived, in order that he may receive our bounty with- 
out knowing the source from whence it flows. It is said 
that Arcesilaus had a friend who was poor, but conceale*d 
his poverty ; who was ill, yet tried to hide his disorder, 
and who had not money for the necessary expenses of 
existence. Without his knowledge, Arcesilaus placed a 
bag of money nnder his pillow, in order that this victim of 
false shame might rather seem to find what he wanted 
than to receive. “What,” say you, “ought he not to 
know from whom he received it P ” Yes ; let him not know 
it at first, if it be essential to your kindness that he should 
not; afterwards I will do so much for him, and give him 
so much that he will perceive who was the giver of the 
former benefit ; or, better still, let him not know that he 
has received anything, provided I know that I have given 
it, “ This,” you say, “is to get too little return for one’s 
goodness.” True, if it bo an investment of which you are 
thinlviug ; hut if a gift, it should he given in the way which 
will be of most service to the receiver. You should be satisfied 
with the approval of your own conscience ; if not, you do not 
really delight in doing good, but in being seen to do good. 
“ For all that,” say you, “ I wish him to knoAv it.” Is it a 
debtor that you seek for ? “ For all that, I wish him to know 
it.” What ! though it be more useful, more creditable, 
moi’e pleasant for him Hot to know his,l)enefactor, will you 
not consent to stand aside? “I wish him to know.” So, 



28 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. II. 


then, you would not save a man’s life in the dark ? I do 
not deny tliat, whenever the matter admits of it, one ought 
to take into consideration tlie pleasure which we receive 
from the joy of the receiver of our kindness ; but if he 
ought to have help and is ashamed to receive it — if what 
we bestow upon him pains him unless it be concealed — I 
forbear to make my benefits public. Why should I not 
refrain from hinting at my having given him anything, 
when the first and most essential rule is, never to reproaeli 
a man with what you have done for him, and not even to 
remind him of it. The rule for the giver and receiver of a 
benefit is, that the one should straightway forget that he has 
given, the other should never forget that he has received it. 

XI, A constant reference to one’s own services wounds 
our friend’s feelings. Like the man who was saved from 
the proscription under the triumvirate by one of Caesar’s 
friends, and afterwards found it impossible to endure his 
])reserver’s arrogance, they wish to cry, “ G-ive me back to 
Caesar.” How long will you go on saying, “ I saved you, 
I snatched you from the jaws of death ? ” This is indeed 
life, if I remember it by my own will, but death if I re- 
member it at yours ; I nwe you nothing, if you saved me 
merely in order to have some one to point at. How long 
do you mean to lead me about ? how long do you mean to 
forbid me to forget my adventure? If I had been a 
defeated enemy, I should liave been led in triumph 
but once. We ought not to speak of the benefits which 
we have conferred ; to remind men of them is to ask 
them to return them. We should not obtrude them, or 
recall the memory of them ; you should only remind a man 
of what you have given him by giving him something else. 
We ought not eveir to tell others of our good deeds. He 
who confers a benefit should be silent, it should be told by 
the receiver; for 6)therwiBe you* may receive the retort 
which was imule to oiid who was everywhere boasting of 



CH. XI.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


29 


tlie benefit which he had conferred ; " You will not deny,” 
said his victim, “ that you have received a return for it ?” 
“ When ? asked he. “ Often,” said the other, “ and in 
many places, that is, wherever and whenever you have 
told '^he story.” What need is there for you to speak, and 
to take the place which belongs to another ? There is a 
man who can tell the story in a way much more to your 
credit, and thus you will gain glory for not telling it your- 
self. You would think me ungrateful if, through your 
own silence, no one is to know of your benefit. So far 
from doing this, even if any one tells the story in our pre- 
sence, we ought to make answer, “ He does indeed deserve 
much more than this, and I am aware that I have not 
hitherto done any great things for him, although I wish to 
do so.” This should not be said jokingly, nor yet with 
that air by which some persons repel those whom they 
especially wish to atti-act. In addition to this, we ought 
to act with the greatest politeness towards such persons. 
If the farmer ceases his labours after he has put in the 
seed, he will lose what he has sown ; it is only by great 
pains that seeds are brought to yield a crop ; no plant will 
bear fruit unless it be tended with equal care from first to 
last, and the same rule is true of benefits. Can any bene- 
fits be greater than those which children receive from their 
parents ? Yet these benefits are useless if they be deserted 
while young, if the pious care of the parents does not for a 
long time watch over the gift wliich they have bestowed. 
So it is with other benefits ; unless you help them, you 
wiU lose them ; to give is not enough, you must foster what 
you have given. If you wish those whom you lay under 
an obligation to be grateful to you, you must not mei*ely 
confer benefits upon them, but you must also love them. 
Above all, as I said before, spare their ears ; you will 
weary them if you remind them of yom* goodness, if you 
reproach them with it you will make them hate you. 





ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. Hi 


C’U 

Pride ouglit alove all things to be avoided when you 
confer a benefit. What need have you for disdainful airs, 
or swelluig phrases? the act itself will exalt yoif. Let us 
shun vain boasting ; let us be silent, and let our deeds 
speak for us. A benefit conferred with haughtiness not 
only wins no gratitude, but causes dislike. 

XII. Gaius Caesar granted Pompeius Pennus his life, 
that is, if not to take away life be to grant it ; then, when 
Pompeius was set free and returning thanks to him, he 
stretched out his left foot to be kissed. Those who excuse 
this action, and say that it was not done through arro- 
gance, say that he wished to show him a gilded, nay a 
golden slipper studded with pearls. “Well,” say they, 
“ what disgrace can there be in a man of consular rank 
kissing gold and pearls, and what part of Caesar’s whole 
body was it less pollution to kiss ? ” So, then, that man, 
the object of whose life was to change a free state into a 
Persian despotism, was not satisfied when a senator, an 
aged man, a man who had filled the highest offices in the 
state, prostrated himself before him in the presence of all 
the nobles, just as the vanquished prostrate themselves 
before their conqueror ! He discovered a place below his 
knees down to which he might thrust liberty. What is 
this but trampling upon the commonwealth, and that, too, 
with the left foot, though you may say that this point does 
not signify ? It was not a sufficiently foul and frantic out- 
rage for the emperor to sit at the trial of a consular for his 
life wealnng slippers, he must needs push his shoes into a 
senator’s face. 

XIII. 0 pride, the silliest fault of great good fortune ! 
how pleasant it is to take nothing from thee ! how dost 
thou turn all benefits into outrages ! how dost thou delight 
in all excess ! how , ill all things become thee ! The higher 
thou risest the low,ef thou art, and provest that the good 
things by which thou art so puffed up profit thee not j 



CH. XIT.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


31 


thou spoilest all that thou givest. It is -worth while to 
inquire why it is that pride thus swaggers and changes the 
form and fippearance of her countenance, so that she pre- 
fers a mash to her own face. It is pleasant to receive gifts 
wh h they are conferred in a kindly and gentle manner, 
when a superior in giving them does not exalt himself over 
me, but shows as much good feeling as possible, placing 
himself on a level with me, giving -without parade, and 
choosing a time when I am glad of his help, rather than, 
waiting till I am in the bitterest need. The only way by 
which you can prevail upon proud men not to spoil their 
gifts by their arrogance is by proving to them that benefits 
do not appear greater because they are bestowed with great 
pomp and circumstance; that no one will think them 
greater men for so doing, and that excessive pride is a 
mere delusion which leads men to hate even what they 
ought to love. 

XIV. There are some things which injure those who re- 
ceive them, things which it is not a benefit to give but to 
withhold ; we should therefore consider the usefulness of 
our gift rather than the wish of the petitioner to receive it ; 
for we often long for hurtful things, and are unable to dis- 
cern how ruinous they are, because our judgment is biassed 
by our feelings ; when, however, the longing is past, when 
that frenzied impulse which masters our good sense has 
passed away, we abhor those who have given us hurtful 
gifts. As we refuse cold water to the sick, or swords to 
the grief-stricken or remorseful, and take from the insane 
whatever they might in their delirium use to their own de- 
struction, so must we persist in refusing to give anything 
whatever that is hurtful, although our friends earnestly 
and humbly, nay, sometimes even most piteously beg for 
it. We ought to look at the end of our benefits as well 
as the beginning, and not merely to give what men are glad 
to receive, but what thev will hereafter be glad to have re- 



32 


ON BENEFITS. 


LBK. II. 


ceived. There are many who say, “ I know that this will 
do him no good, hut what am I to do ? he begs for it, I 
cannot withstand his entreaties. Let him see"’ to it ; he 
will blame himself, not me.” Not so : you he will blame, 
and deservedly ; when lie comes to his right mind, when the 
frenzy which now excites him has left him, how can he help 
hating the man who has assisted him to harm and to en- 
danger himself ? It is a cruel kindness to allow one’s self 
to be won over into granting that which injures those who 
beg for it. Just as it is the noblest of acts to save men 
from harm against their will, so it is but hatred, under the 
mask of civility, to grant what is harmful to those who ask 
for it. Let us confer benefits of such a kind, that the more 
they are made use of the better they please, and which never 
can turn into injuries. I never will give money to a man 
if I know that he will pay it to an adulteress, nor will The 
found in connexion with any wicked act or plan ; if pos- 
sible, I will restrain men from crime ; if not, at least I will 
never assist them in it. Whether my friend be driven into 
doing wrong by anger, or seduced from the path of safety 
by the heat of ambition, he shall never gain the means of 
doing mischief except from himself, nor will I enable him 
one day to say, “ He ruined me out of love for me.” Our 
friends often give us what our enemies wish us to receive ; 
we are driven by the unseasonable fondness of the former 
into the ruin which the latter hope will befall us. Yet, often 
as it is the case, what can be more shameful than that 
there should be no difi'erence between a benefit and hatred ? 

XY. Let us never bestow gifts which may recoil upon us to 
our shame. As the sum total of friendship consists in making 
our friends equal to ourselves, we ought to consider the in- 
terests of both parties ; I must give to him that wants, yet so 
that I do not want myself ; I must help him who is perish- 
ing, yet so that I i(io not perish myself, unless by so doing 
I can save a great man or a great cause. I must give no 
benefit which it would disgrace me to ask for. I ought not 



CH. XVI.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


B3 


to make a small benefit appear a great one, nor allow great 
benefits to be regarded as small ; for altbougli it destroys 
all feeling of gratitude to treat what you give like a creditor, 
yet you do not reproach a man, but merely set off your gift 
to^-he best advantage by letting him know what it is worth. 
Every man must consider what his resources and powers 
are, so that we may not give either more or less than we are 
able. We must also consider the character and position of 
the person to whom we give, for some men are too great to 
give small gifts, while others are too small to receive great 
ones. Compare, therefore, the character both of the giver 
and the receiver, and weigh that which you give between 
the two, taking care that what is given be neither too 
burdensome nor too trivial for the one to give, nor yet such 
as the receiver will either treat with disdain as too small, 
or think too great for him to deal with. 

XVI. Alexander, who was of unsound mind, and always 
full of magnificent ideas, presented somebody with a city. 
When the man to whom he gave it had reflected upon the 
scope of his own powers, he wished to avoid the jealousy 
which so great a present would excite, saying that the gift 
did not suit a man of his position. “ I do not ask,” re- 
plied Alexander, “ what is becoming for you to receive, but 
what is becoming for me to give.” This seems a spirited 
and kingly speech, yet really it is a most foolish one. 
Nothing is by itself a becoming gift for any one ; all de- 
pends upon who gives it, to whom he gives it, when, for 
what reason, where, and so forth, without which details it 
is impossible to argue about it. Inflated, creature ! if it 
did not become him to receive this gift, it could not become 
thee to give it. There should be a proportion between 
men’s characters and the offices which they fill ; and as 
virtue in all cases should be our measure, he who gives tQo 
much acts as wrongly as he who giv«8 too little. Even 
granting that fortune has raised you so high, that, where 

D 



84 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. II. 


other men give cups, you give cities (which it would show 
a greater mind in you not to take than to take and 
squander), still there must be some of your friends who 
are not strong enough to j)ut a city in their pockets. 

XVII. A certain cynic asked Antigonus for a talent. 
Antigonus answered that this was too much for a cynic to 
ask for. After this rebuff he asked for a penny. Antigonus 
aiiswered that this was too little for a king to give. This 
kind of hair-sjditting ” (you say) “is contemptible : he found 
tlie means of giving neitlier. In the matter of the penny 
he thought of the king, in that of the talent he thought of 
the cynic, whereas with respect to the cynic it would have 
been right to receive the penny, with respect to the king it 
would have been right to give the talent. Though there 
may be things which are too great for a cynic to receive, 
yet nothing is so small, that it does not become a gracious 
king to bestow it,” If you ask me, I applaud Antigonus ; 
for it is not to be endured that a man who despises money 
sliould ask for it. Your cynic has publicly proclaimed his 
hatred of money, and assumed the character of one who 
despises it : let him act up to his professions. It is most 
inconsistent for liim to earn money by glorifying his poverty. 
I wish to use Chrysippus’s simile of the game of ball, in 
which the Imll must certainly fall by the fault either of the 
thrower or of the catcher ; it only holds its course when it 
passes between the hands of two persons who each throw 
it and catch it suitably. It is necessary, however, for a good 
player to send the ball in one way to a comrade at a long dis- 
tance, and in another to one at a short distance. So it is with 
a benefit : unless it be suitable both for the giver and the 
receiver, it will neither leave the one ncr reach the other as 
it ought. If we have to do with a practised and skilled 
player, we shall throw the ball more recklessly, for how- 
ever it may come, that quick and agile hand will send it 
back again ; if we are playing with an unskilled novice, we 



OH. XVIII.] ON BENEFITS. 35 

sliall not throw it so hard, but far more gently, guiding it 
straight inio his very hands, and we shall run to meet it 
when it returns to us. This is just what we ought to do 
in coi’ferring benefits ; let us teach some men how to do 
so, and be satisfied if they attemi)t it, if they have the 
courage and the will to do so. For the most ])art, however, 
we make men ungrateful, and encourage them to be so, 
as if our benefits were only great when we cannot receive 
any gratitude for them ; just as some spiteful ball-players 
purposely put out their companion, of course to the ruin of 
the game, which cannot be carried on without entire agree- 
ment. Many men are of so depraved a nature that they had 
rather lose the presents which they make than be thought 
to have received a return for them, because they are proud, 
and like to lay people under obligations : yet how miicli 
better and more kindly would it be if they tried to enable 
the others also to perform their parts, if they encouraged 
them in returning gratitude, put the best construction u]>on 
all their acts, received one who wished to tlianlc them just 
as cordially as if he came to repay what he had received, 
and easily lent tliemselves to the belief that those whom 
they have laid under an obligation wish to repay it. We 
blame usurers equally when they press harshly for payment, 
and when they delay and make difficulties about taking 
back the money which they have lent ; in the same way, it 
is just as right that a benefit should be returned, as it is 
Wrong to ask any one to return it. The best man is he who 
gives readily, never asks for any return, and is delighted when 
a return is made, because, having really and truly forgotten 
what he gave, he receives it as though it were a present, 
XVIII. Some men not only give, but even receive bene- 
fits haughtily, a mistake into which we ought not to fall : 
for now let us cross over to the other side of the subject, 
and consider how men should behave T/hen they receive 
benefits. Every function which is performed by two per- 



KOiis makes equal dcmauds upon kotli : after you liave cou- 
Hidered wliat a, tatlier ought to be, you will pei’<'eive that 
tlier(5 remains an equal task, tliat of considering wliat a 
son ouglit to ]je : a husband has certain duties, but those 
of a wife are no less important. Eaeii of these give and 
take e(|ual]y, and each require a similar rule of life, which, 
as Hecaton obsmwcs, is hard to follow : indeed, it is difiicult 
for us to attain to virtue, or even to anything that, comes 
neai’ virtue : for we (uight not only to act virtuously but 
to do so u])on principle. Wo ought to follow this guide 
throughout our liv(\s, and to do everything great and small 
according to its dictates : according as virtue prompts us 
wo ought both to give and to receive. Now she will declare 
at the oni^S(d;- 1-luit wo ought not to receive benefits from every 
maiii. “ From whom, then, ouglit we to receive them ? ” To 
answer you briefly, I should say, from those to whom wo 
liavo given tliom. Let ns consider whether we ought not 
to be oven more careful in choosing to whom we should 
owe than to wlioin we sliould give. For even supposing 
that no niqdeasantness should result (and very much always 
does), still it is a great misery to be indebted to a man to 
whom you do not wish to lie under an obligation ; whereas 
it is most delightful to receive a heiiefit from one whom 
you can love oven after he has wronged you, and when the 
pleasure which you feel in his friendship is justified by the 
grounds on which it is based. Nothing is more wretched 
for a modest and honouralile man than to feel it to be his 
duty to love one whom it does not please him to love. I 
m ust constantly remind you that I do not speak of wise men, 
who talce ])leasurc in everything that is their duty, who have 
their feelings under command, and are able to lay do’wn 
whatever law they please to themselves and keep it, but that 
I speak of imperfect beings struggling to follow the right 
patJi, who often have trouble in bending their passions to 
their will. I must therefore choose the man from whom T 



CH. XVIII.] 


Oir BENEFITS. 


37 


will accept a benefit ; indeed, I onglit to l)e more careful in 
the choice my crcdiior for a benefit than for inoiiey ; for I 
have only to pay the latter as much as I received of him, 
and when I have paid it I am free from all obligation ; but 
to the other I must both repay more, and even when I ha v<! 
repaid his kindness we remain connected, for when I havx' 
paid my debt I ought again to renew it, while our friendshi p 
endures unbroken. Thus, as I ought not to make an un- 
worthy man my friend, so I ought not to admit, an uinvorthy 
man into that most holy bond of gratitude for beneiits, from 
which friendship arises. You re^tly, “ I cannot always s.'iy 
No ’ : sometimes I must receive a benefit oven against, my 
will. Snp]M)se I were given something by a cruel and 
easily olfended tyrant, who would take it as an affront if 
hishounty were slighted? am I not to accept it? Siip].ioso 
it were offered by a pirate, or a brigand, or a king of the 
temper of a pirate or brigand. What ought I to do ? Sucli 
a man is not a worthy ohject for me to owe a benefit to,” 
When I say that you oughtto clioose, loxet'pt; vw vuijor aiul 
fear, which destroy all power of choice. If yon are free, if 
it lies with you to decide whether you will or not, then you 
will turn over in your own jniiid whethc'r you will take a 
gift from a man or not ; but if your position makes it im- 
possible for you to choose, then l)e assured that you do not 
receive a gift, you merely obey orders. No one incurs any 
obligation by receiving what it was not in his power to refuse ; 
if you want to know whether I wisli to take it, arrange 
matters so that I have the power of saying *' No.’ “ Ye.t sup- 
pose he gave you your life.” It does not matter what the 
gift was, unless it be given and received with good will : 
yon are not my preserver Iwjcause yon have saved my life. 
Poison sometimes acts as a medicine, yet it is not on 
that account regarded as wholesome. Some thingvS l>enefit 
us but piit us under no obligation: fux lusutiice a man 
who intended to kill a tyrant, cut with his sword a tumour 



38 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. II. 


from •whic'h he Buffered : yet the tyrjint did not bIiow Mm 
gratitude liecause by wounding him he had healpd a disease 
wliich surgeons had feared to meddle with, 

XIX. You see that the actual thing itself is not of much 
importaiUH,', Itecause it is not regarded as a 1 »enefit at all, if 
you do good wlicm you intended to do evil ; in such a case 
the benefit, is done by chance, the man did harm. I have 
seen a lion in the amphitheatre, who recognized one of the 
m(in who fought with wild l)easts, who once had been his 
keeper, and protected him against the attacks of the other 
animals. Are we, then, to say that this assistance of the 
brute was a benefit ? By no means, because it did not 
intend to do it, and did not do it with kindly intentions. 
You may class the lion and your tyrant together : each of 
them savtid a man’s life, yet neither conferred a benefit. 
Becanse it is not a benefit to be forced to receive one, 
iKiitluir is it a benefit to be under an obligation to a man to 
whom we do not wish to be indebted. You must first give 
me personal freedom of decision, and tlion your benefit. 

XX, The question has been raised, whether Marcus Brutus 
ought to liave received his life from the hands of Julius 
Caesar, who, he had decided, ought to be put to death. 

As to the grounds upon which he put him to deatli, I 
shall discuss them elsewhere ; for to my mind, though he 
was in other respects a great man, in this he seems to have 
been entirely wrong, and not to have followed the maxims of 
the Stoic. philosopJiy. He must either have feared the name 
of “ King,” although a state thrives best under a good 
king, or he must have hoped that liberty could exist in a 
state where some had so much to gain by reigning, and 
others liad so mneb to gain by becoming slaves. Or, 
again, be must have supposed that it would be possible 
to restore tlie ancient constitutkm aftei* all tlio ancient 
manners had been lost, and that citizens could contiinie to 
possess ofjiia] rights, or laws rcinain inviolate, in a state in 
which lie !iad f>eeii so nianv ihoiisauds of men fighting to 



CH. XXI.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


39 


decide, not wlietlicr they should he slaves t>r free, hut which 
master thpv nhould serve. How forgetful he seems to have 
been, both of human nature and of the history of liis own 
country, in supposing that when one despot was destroyed 
another of the same temper would not take his phice, 
though, after so many kings hadperislied Ijy lightning and 
the sword, a Tarquin was found to reign ! Yet Brutus did 
right in receiving his life from Caesar, though ]ie was not 
bound thereby to regard Caesar as his father, since it was 
by a wrong that Caesar had come to be in a position to 
bestow this benefit. A man does not save yonr life who 
does not kill you ; nor does he confer a benefit, but merely 
gives you your discliarge.^ 

XXI. It seems to offer more opportunity for debate to 
Ciuisider what a captive ought to do, if a man of ai>omin- 
alle vices ofi'ers him the price of his ransom? Shall I 
permit myself to be saved by a wrefch ? When safe, wliat 
recompense (ian I make to him ? Am I to live with an 
infamous person ? Yet, am I not to live with my pre- 
server ? I will tell you my opinion. I would acicept money, 
oven from such a person, if it were to save my life ; yet I 
would only accept it as a loan, not as a benefit. I would 
vepay him the money, and if I were ever aide to preserve 
him from dangei i would do so. As for friendship, which 
can only exist betw^een equals, I would not condescend to 
bo such a man’s friend; nor would I regard him as my 
preserver, but merely as a money-lender, to whom I am 
only bound to repay wbit I borrowed from him. 

A man may be a worthy person for me to re(;eivc a 
benefit from, but it will hurt him to give it. Bor this 
reason I will not receive it, because he is ready to help me 
to his owm prejudice, or even danger. Suppose that he is 
willing to plead for me in court, but by so doing will mako 
tlie Icing hi.s enemy. I should he his eilemy, if, when lie is 

' 'J'tie • discharge’ alluded to is that which was granted to the beaten 
one of a pair of gladiators, when tlieir duel was not to the death. 



40 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. II. 


willing to risk himself for me, if I were not to risk 
myself without him, which moreover is easier :^or me to 
do. 

As an instance of this, Hecaton calls the case of Arcesi- 
laus silly, and not to the purpose. Arcesilaus, he says, re- 
fused to receive a large sum of money which was offered 
to him by a son, lest the son should offend his penurious 
father. What did he do deserving of praise, i]i not re- 
ceiving stolen goods, in choosing not to receive them, in- 
stead of returning them ? What proof of self-restraint is 
there in refusing to receive another man’s property. If 
you want an instance of magnanimity, take the case of 
Julius Qraeciuus, whom Cains Caesar put to death merely 
on the ground that he was abetter man than it suited a tyrant 
for any one to be. This man, when he was receiving sub- 
scriptions from many of his friends to cover his expenses 
in exhibiting public games, would not receive a large sum 
which was sent him by Fabius Pcrsicus ; and when be was 
blamed for rejecting it by those Avbo think more of what is 
given than of who gives it, he answered, “ Am I to accept a 
present from a man w^heii I would not accept his offer to 
drink a glass of wine with him F ” 

When a consular named Rehilius, a man of equally had 
character, sent a yet larger sum to Graecimis, and pressed 
him to receive it. “ I must beg,” answered he, “ that you 
will excuse me. I did not take money from Persiens 
either.” Ought we to call this receiving presents, or rather 
taking one’s pick of the senate ? 

XXII, When Ave have decided to accept, let ns accept 
with cheerfulness, showing pleasure, and letting the giver 
see it, so that he may at once receive some return for his 
goodness ; for as it is a good reason for rejoicing to see onr 
friend happy, it is a better one to have made him so. * Let 
us, therefore, show' how acceptable a gift is by loudly ex- 
pressing onr gratitude for it; and let us do so, not only iji 



CH. XXIII.] 


OX BENEFITS. 


41 


the hearing of the giver, but everywhere. He who receives 
a benefit with gratitude, repays the first instalment of it. 

XXIII. Tliere are some, who only like to receive benefits 
privately : they dislike having any witnesses and confidants. 
Sno.i men, we may believe, have no good intentions. As a 
giver is justified in dwelling upon those qualities of his 
gift which will please the receiver, so a man, wIkjii he re- 
ceives, should do so publicly ; you should not take from 
a man what you are a.shamed to owe him. Some return 
thanks to one stealthily, in a corner, in a wliispcr. This is 
not modesty, but a kind of denying of the debt : it is the 
])art of an ungrateful man not to express his gratitude be- 
fore witnesses. Some object to any accounts lining kept 
between them and their benefactors, and wisli no brokers to 
be employed or witnesses to be called, but merely to give 
their own signature to a receipt. Tliose men do the lilce, 
who take care to let as few persons as possible know of 
the benefits which they have received. They fear to receive 
them in public, in order that their success may be attributed 
rather to their own talents than to the hel]^! others : they are 
very.-seldom to be found in attendance upon those to whom 
they owe their lives and their fortunes, and thus, while avoid- 
ing the imputation of servility, they incur that of ingratitude. 

XXIV. Some men speak in the most offensive terms of 
those to whom they owm most. There are men whom it is 
safer to affront than to serve, for their dislike leads them 
to assume the airs of persons who are not indehted to us : 
altliougli nothing more is expected of them than that they 
should remember what tliey owe us, refreshing their memory 
from time to time, because no one can be grateful who 
forgets a kindness, and he who remembers it, by so doing 
proves his gratitude. Wc ought neither to receive benefits 
with a^fastidious air, nor yet with a slavish humility : for if a 
man does not care for a benefit wlien it is'freslily bestowed 
—a time at which all presents please us most — what will 



ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. II. 


4a 

he do when its first charms have gone off ? Others receive 
with an air of disdain, as much as to say. “ I do not want 
it ; but as you wish it so very much, I will allow you to 
give it to me.” Others tate benefits languidly, and leave 
the giver in doubt as to whether they know that they have 
received them ; others barely 0])en their lips in thanks, and 
would be less offensive if they said nothing. One ought to 
proportion one’s thanks to the importance of the benefit 
received, and to use the phrases, “ You have laid more of 
ns than you think under an obligation,” for every one likes 
to find his good actions extend further than he expected. 
“ You do not know what it is that you have done for me ; 
but you ought to know how much more important it is 
than you imagine.” It is in itself an expression of gratitude 
to speak of one’s self as overwhelmed by kindness ; or 
“ I shall never be able to thank you sufficiently ; but, at 
any rate. I will never cease to express everywhere my in- 
ability to thank you.” 

XXV. By nothing did Furuius gain greater credit with 
Augustus, and make it easy for him to obtain anything else 
for which he might ask, than by merely saying, when at his 
request Augustus pardoned his father for having taken 
Antouius’s side, “ One wrong alone I have received at your 
hands, Cassar ; you have forced me to live and to die owing 
you a greater del)t of gratitude than I can ever repay,” 

What can prove gratitude so well as that a man should 
never be satisfied, should never even entertain the hope of 
making any adequate return for what he has received? By 
these and similar expressions we must try not to conceal our 
gratitude, but to disiday it as clearly as possible. No words 
need be used ; if we only feel as we ought, our thank'- 
fulness will be shown m our eoantenances. He who intends 
to be grateful, lot liim think how he shall repay a kiudnc.ss 
while he is roceiWng it. Chrysippus says that such a man 
must watch for his opportunity, and spring forward wlieu- 



CH. XXVI.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


42 


ever it oilers, like one wlio has been entered for a race, and 
who stands at the starting-point waiting i'or tlie harriers to 
he thrown j cind even then he must use great exertions 
and great swiftness to catch the other, wlio has a start of him. 

ZXVI. We must now consider what is the main cause of 
ingratitude. It is caused by excessive self-esteem, by that 
fault innate in all mortals, of taking a partial view of our* 
selves and our own acts, by greed, or by jealousy. 

Let us begin with the first of these. Every one is preju- 
diced in his own favour, from which it follows thal. lie 
believes himself to have earned all that he receiv('s, regards 
it as payment for his services, and do(,‘S not think that ho 
has been appraised at a valuation sulliciently near his own, 
“ He has given me this,” says he, “ but how late, after how 
much toil? how much more miglit I leave earned if I had 
attached myself to So and so, or to So and so ? T did not 
expect this ; I have been treated like one of the herd ; did lie 
really think that I only deserved so little ? why, it would have 
been less insulting to have passed me over altogether.” 

XXVII. The augur Cnaeus Lentulus, who, before his 
freedmen reduced him to poverty, was one of the richest of 
men, who saw himself in possession of a fortune of four 
hundred millions — I say advisedly, “ saw,” for he never did 
more than see it — was as barren and contemjitible in in- 
tellect as he was in spirit. Though very avaricious, yet he 
was so poor a speaker that he found it easier to give 
men coins than words. This man, who owed all his 
prosperity to the late Emperor Augustus, to whom he had 
brought only poverty, encumbered with a noble name, when 
he had lisen to be the chief man in Eome, both in wealth 
and influence, used sometimes to complain that Augustus 
had interrupted his legal studies, observing that he had not 
received anything like what he had lost by giving up the 
study of eloquence. Yet the truth was that Augustus, 
besides loading him vdth other gifts, had set liiin free from 



ON BENEFITS, 


44 


[UK. 11. 


the necessity of making himself ridiculous by labouring 
at a profession in -which he never could succeed. 

Greed does not j^erniit any one to be grateful ; for what 
is given is never equal to its base desires, and the more we 
receive the more we covet, for avarice is much more eager 
when it has to deal with great accumulations of wealth, 
just as the power of a flame is enormously greater in propor- 
tion to the size of the conflagration from whicli it springs. 
Ambition in like manner sufl’ers no man to rest satisfled 
with that measure of public honours, to gain which was 
once the limit of his wildest hope ; no one is thankf ul for 
becoming triliune, but grumbles at not being at once pro- 
moted to Ihe post of praetor ; nor is he grateful for this if 
the (ionsulship does not follow ; and even this does not satisfy 
him if he be consul but once. His greed ever stretches 
itself out furtlier, and be does not understand the greai;- 
ness of his success because lie always looks forward to the 
point at which he aims, and never back towards that from 
which he started, 

XXVIII. A more violent and distressing vice than any 
of these is jealousy, which disturbs us by suggesting qom- 
parisons. “He gave me tliis, but he gave more to that 
man, and he gave it to him before me; ” after wliich lie 
syinpatliises with no one, but puslies his own claims to the 
prejudice of ever}' one else. How much more straightfor- 
ward and modest is it to make the most of what we have 
received, knowing that no man is valued so highly by 
any one else as by his own self ! “ I ought to have received 
more, but it was not easy for him to give more ; he was 
obliged to distribute his liberality among many persons. 
This is only the beginning ; let me lie contented, and by 
my gratitude encourage him to show me more favour ; he 
has not done as much as he ought, hut he will do so the 
more frequently ; he certainly preferred that man to me, 
but he has prefeiTed me before many others ; that man is 



cn. XXIX,] 


ON BENEFITS. 


45 


not iny equal either in xirtue or in services, hut he has 
some chariig of his own : hy complaining I shall not maho 
myself deserve to receive more, but shall become unworthy 
of what I have received. More has been given to those 
moso villainous men than has been given to me; well, 
what is that to the purpose? how seldom does Fortune 
sliow Judgment in her choice? We complain every day of 
the success of bad men ; very often the hail passes over 
the estates of the greatest villains and strikes down the 
crops of the best of men ; every man has to take his 
chance, in friendship as well as in everything else.” 
There is no benefit so great tliat spitefulness can pi(ik no 
holes in it, none so paltry that it cannot be made more of 
by friendly interpretation. Wo shall never want a subject 
for complaint if we look at benefits on their wrong side. 

XXIX. See how unjustly the gifts of heaven are valued 
even by some wlio profess themselves philosophers, who 
complain that we are not as big as elephants, as swift as 
stags, as light as birds, as strong as bulls ; that the skins 
of seals arc stronger, of hinds prettier, of bears thicker, of 
beavers softer than ours ; that dogs excel us in delicacy of 
scent, eagles in keenness of sight, crows in length of days, 
and many beasts in ease of swimming. And although 
natui’e itself does not allow some qualities, as for example 
strength and swiftness, to be combined in the same person, 
yet they call it a monstrous thing that men are not com- 
pounded of different and inconsistent good qualities, and 
call the gods neglectful of us because we have not been 
given health which even our vices cannot destroy, or know- 
ledge of the future. They scarcely refrain from rising to 
such a pitch of impudence as to hate nature because we 
are below the gods, and not on an equality with them. 
How much better is it to turn to the contemplation of so 
many great blessings, and to be thankful that the gods 
have been pleased to give us a place second only to them- 



4ii 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. II. 


pelves in lliis most beautiful abode, and that they have 
appointed us to be the lords of the earth! any one 
compare us with the animals over whom we rule? 
Nothini^' has been denied us except what could not have 
been granted. In like manner, thou that takest an unfair 
view of tlie lot of mankind, think what blessings our 
blither has bestowed ujHm us, how far more powerful 
animals tlian ourselves we have broken to harness, how 
we cntch those which are far swifter, how nothing that 
has life is placed beyond the reach of our weapons! We 
have received so many excellencies, so many crafts, abov(» 
ail our mind, which can j)ierce at once whatever it is 
directed against, which is swifter than the stars in their 
courses, for it arrives before them at the place which they 
will rea.ch after many ages; and besides this, so many 
fruits of the earth, so much treasure, such masses of 
various things ])iled one upon another. You may go 
through the whole order of nature, and since you find no 
entire creature which you would prefer to be, you may 
choose from each the special qualities which you would like 
to bo given to yourself ; then, if you rightly appreciate the 
partiality of nature for you, you cannot but confess your- 
self to be her spoiled child. So it is ; the immortal gods 
have unto this day always held us most dpr, and have be- 
stowed upon us the greatest possible honour, a place 
nearest to themselves. We have indeed received great 
things, yet not too great. 

XXX. I have thought it necessary, my friend Liberalis, 
to state these facts, both because when speaking of small 
benefits one ought to make some mention of the greatest, 
and beaiuse also this shameless and hateful vice (of in- 
gratitude), starting with these, transfers itself from them 
to all the rest. If a man scorn these, the greatest of all 
benefits, to whom* will he feel gratitude, what gift will he 
regard as valuable or deserving to be returned ; to whom 



CH. XXXI.] 


OX BENEFITS. 


47 


will lie be gi'ateful for his safety or his life, if he denies 
that he has received from the gods that existem'e which he 
begs from them daily ? He, therefore, who teaches men to 
lie grateful, pleads the cause not only of men, but even of 
the gods, for though they, being placed above all desires, 
cannot be in want of anything, yet we can nevertheless 
offer them our gratitude. 

No one is justified in seeking an excuse for ingratitude 
in his own wealcness or poverty, or in saying, “ What ani I 
to do, and how ? When can I repay my delit to my 
superiors the lords of heaven and earth V ” Avaricious as 
you are, it is easy for you to give them tlianks, without 
expense j lazy though you be, you can do it without laliour. 
At the same instant at which you received your debi- to- 
wards them, if you wish to repay it, you have done as 
much as any one can do, for he returns a benefit who 
receives it with good will. 

XXXI. This paradox of the Stoic philosophy, that he 
returns a benefit who receives it with good will, is, in my 
opinion, either far from admii*able, or else it is iacredil)le. 
For if we look at everything merely from the point of view of 
our iiitentioiis, every man has done as much as he chose to 
do ; and since filial piety, good faith, justice, and in short 
every virtue is complete within itself, a man may be grateful 
in intention even though he may not be able to lift a band 
to prove his gratitude. Whenever a man obtains what he 
aimed at, he receives the fruit of his labour. When a man 
bestows a benefit, at what does he aim ? clearly to be of 
service and afford pleasure to him upon whom he be- 
stows it. If he does what he wishes, if his purpose reaches 
me and fills us each with joy, he has gained his object. Ho 
does not wish anything to be given to him in return, or else 
it becomes an exchange of commodities, not a bestowal of 
benefits. A man steers well who reaches the port for which 
he started ; a dart hurled by a steady hand performs its duty 



43 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be.. II. 


if it hits the mark ; one who bestows ,a benefit wishes it to be 
received witli gratitude ; he gets what ho wanted if it be 
well rec(.‘ived. “ But,” you say, “he lioped for some profit 
also ” Tlien it was not a benefit, the property of which is 
to tlunk nothing of any repayment. I receive what was 
given me in the same spirit in which it was given : then I 
have repaid it. If tliis be not true, then this best of deeds 
lias this worst of conditions attached to it, that it depends 
entirely upon fortune whether I am grateful or not, for if 
my fortune is adverse I can make no repayment. The 
intenti(»n is enough. “ What then ? am I not to do what- 
ever I iiiiiy be able to repay it, and ought I not ever to be 
on the watch for an oj>portunity of filling the bosom ^ of him 
from whom I have received any kindness ? True ; but a 
benefit is in an evil plight if we cannot be grateful for it 
even when we are empty-handed. 

XXX 11. “ A man,” it is argued, “ who has received a 
benefit, however gratefully he may have received it, has not 
yet accomplished all his duty, for tliore remains the part of 
i-epayment ; just as in playing at ball it is something to catch 
the ball cleverly and carefully, but a man is not called a 
good player unless he can handily and (juickly send back 
the ball which he has caught.” This analogy is imperfect ; 
and why ? Because to do this creditably depends upon the 
movement and activity of the body, and not upon the 
mind : and an act of wliich we judge entirely by the eye, 
ought to be all clearly displayed. But if a man caught the 
ball a.s he ought to do, I should not call him a bad player 
for not returning it, if his delay in returning it was not 
caused by his own fault. “ Yet,” say you, “ although the 
player is not wanting in skill, because he did one part of 
his duty, and was able to do the other part, yet in such a 


’ Sinus, the fold of the toga over the breast, used as a pocket by the 
Romans. The great French actor Talma, when dressed for the first 
time in correct classical costume, indignantly asked where he was to put 
his snuff-box, 



CH. XXXIII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


49 


case the game is imperfect, for its perfection lies in sending 
the ball backwards and forwards.” I am iimvilling to expose 
this fallacy iurther ; let ns think that it is the game, not 
the player that is imperfect: so likewise in the subject 
which we are discussing, the thing which is given laelvs 
soraetning, because another equal thing ought to be returned 
for it, but the mind of the giver lacks nothing, because it 
has found another mind equal to itself, and as far as iii- 
toutions go, has effected what it wished. 

XXXIII. A man bestows a benefit upon me ; I receive 
it just as he wished it to be received : then lie gets at once 
what he wanted, and the only thing which he wanted, and 
therefore I have proved myself grateful. After this it 
remains for me to enjoy my own resources, with the 
addition of an advantage conferred upon me by one whom 
I have obliged ; this advantage is not the remainder of an 
imperfect service, but an addition to a perfected sorvi(jG.‘ 
For example, Phidias makes a statue. Now the product 
of an art is one thing, and that of a trade is another. 
It is the business of the art to make the thing which he 
wished to make, and that of the trade to make it with a 
profit. Phidias has completed his work, even though he 
does not sell it. The jiroduct, therefore, of his work is 
threefold: there is the consciousness of having made it, 
which he receives when his work is completed ; there is 
the fame which he receives; and thirdly, the advantage 
which he obtains by it, in influence, or by selling it, or 
■otherwise. In like manner the first fruit of a benefit is the 
consciousness of it, which we feel when we have bestowed 
it upon the person whom we chose ; secondly and thirdly 
there is the credit which we gain by doing so, and there 
are those things which we may receive in exchange for it. 
So when a benefit has been graciously received, the giver 

^ Nothing is wanted to make a benefit, conferred, from good motives, 
perfect : if it is returned, the gratitude is to be counted as net profit. 



60 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bK. II. 


lias already received gratitude, but bas not yet received 
recompense for it : tliat which we owe in return is therefore 
something apart from the benefit itself, for we have paid 
for tlie benefit itself when we accept it in a gratefid spirit. 

XXXIV. " Wbat/’ say you, “ can a man repay a benefit, 
though he does nothing ? ” He has talien tlie first step, 
he has offered you a good tiling with good feeling, and, 
wliicli is the cliaraeteristic of friendship, has placed you 
lioth on the same footing. In the next place, a benefit 
is not repaid in the same manner as a loan: you have no 
reason for expecting me to offer you any payment; the 
account between us de|)ends upon the feelings alone. 
Wliat I say will not appear difficult, although it may not 
at first accord with your ideas, if you will do me the 
favour to remember that there are more things than 
tliere jire words to express them. Tliere is an enormous 
mass of things without names, which we do not speak of 
under distinctive names of their own, but by the names of 
otlier things transferred to them. We speak of our own 
foot, of the foot of a couch, of a sail, or of a jioem ; \e>o apply 
the word ‘ dog ’ to a hound, a fish, and a star. Because we 
liave not enough words to assign a separate name to eacli 
thing, we borrow a name whenever we want one. Bravery 
is the virtue which rightly despises danger, or the science of 
repelling, sustaining, or inviting dangers : yet we call a brave 
mail a gladiator, and we use tlie same word for a good-for- 
iiothiug slave, who is led by rashness to defy death. Economy 
is the science of avoiding unnecessary expenditure, or the 
art of using one’s income with moderation : yet we call a 
man of mean and narrow mind, most economical, although 
there is an immeasurable distance between moderation 
and meanness. These tilings are naturally distinct, yet 
the poverty of our language compels us to call both these 
men ec<)noniical, just as he who views slight accidents with 
rational contempt, and he who without reason runs into 



CH. XXXV.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


51 


danger are alike called brave. Thus a benefit is bt)th a 
neneficent action, and also is that which is bestowed by 
that action, such as money, a house, an office in the 8tat(' : 
there is but one name for them ])oth, though their force 
and ] Dwer are widely dilferent. 

XXXV. Wherefore, give me your attention, and you 
will soon perceive that I say nothing to whieli you can 
o])ject. That benefit whieffi consists of the action is r(3pa,id 
when we receive it graciously; that other, which consists 
of sometliing material, we have not then re]:)aid, but we 
hope to do so. The debt of goodwill has been discharged 
by a return of goodwill; the material debt demands a 
material return. Thus, although we may declare that he 
who has received a benefit with good-will has returned the 
favour, yet we counsel him to return to the giver some- 
thing of the same kind as that which he has received. 
Some part of what we have said departs from the conven- 
tional line of thought, and tlien rejoins it by anotlier patli. 
We de(dare that a, wise man cannot receive an injury ; yet, 
if a man hits him with his fist, that man will he found guilty 
of doing liirn an injury. We declare that a fool can possess 
nothing; yet if a man stole anything from a fool, we should 
find that man guilty of theft. We declare tliat all men arc 
mad, yet we do not dose all men with helleliore ; hut we put 
into the hands of these very persons, whom we call madmen, 
both the right of voting and of pronouncing judgment. 
Similarly, we say that a man who has received a l)enefit 
with good-will has returned the favour, yet we leave him 
in debt nevertheless — hound to repay it even though he has 
repaid it. This is not to disown henefits, but is an en- 
couragement to us neither to fear to receive benefits, nor to 
faint under the too great burden of them. “ Good things 
liave been given to me; I have been preserved from starving; 
I have been saved from the misery of ai\ject poverty ; my 
life, and what is dearer than life, my liberty, has been pro- 



52 ON BENEFITS. [bK, II. 

served. How sliall I Be able to repay these favours ? Wheu 
will the day come upon which I can prove my gratitude to 
him?’’ Wheu a man speaks thus, the day has already 
come. Eeceive a benefit, embrace it, rejoice, not that yoU 
have received it, but that you have to owe it and return it ; 
ilien you will never be in peril of the great sin of being ren- 
dered ungrateful by mischance. I will not enumerate any 
difficulties to you, lest you should despair, and faint at the 
prospect of a long and laborious servitude. I do not refer 
you to the future ; do it with what means you have at hand. 
You never will be grateful unless you are so straightway. 
What, then, mil you do ? You need not take up arms, yet 
perhaps you may have to do so ; you need not cross the 
seas, yet it may be that you will pay your debt, even when 
the wind threatens to blow a gale. Ho you wish to return 
the benefit ? Then receive it graciously ; you have then 
returned the favour— not, indeed, so that you can think 
yourself to have repaid it, but so that you can owe it with 
a quieter conscience. 



Book TIL 
I 

N ot to return '"gratitude for benefits, my iEbutius 
Liberalis, is both base in itself, and is thought base 
by all men ; wherefore even ungrateful men comijlain of 
ingratitude, and yet what all condemn is at the same time 
rooted in all ; and so far do men sometimes run into the 
other extreme that some of them become our bitterest 
enemies, not merely after receiving benefits from us, 
but because they have received them. I cannot deny 
that some do tliis out of sheer badness of nature; but 
more do so because lapse of time destroys their remem- 
brance, for time gradually effaces what they felt vividly 
at the moment. I remember having had an argument 
with you about this class of persons, whom you wished 
to call forgetful rather than ungrateful, as if that wliich 
caused a man to be ungrateful was any excuse for his 
being so, or as if the fact of this happening to a man 
prevented his being ungrateful, when we know that it 
only happens to ungrateful men. There are many classes 
of the ungrateful, as there are of thieves or of homicides, 
who all have the same fault, though there is a great 
variety in its various forms. Tlie man is ungrateful who 
denies that he has received a benefit ; who pretends that 
he has not received it; who does not return it. The 
most ungrateful man of all is he who forgets it. The 
others, though they do not repay it, yet leei xheir debt, and 
possess some traces of worth, though obstructed by their 



54 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. III. 

l)ad eonseience. They may by some means and at some 
time he bronglit to show their gratitude, if, for instance, 
they be priclted by shame, if they conceive some noble 
ambition siicli as occasionally rises even in the breasts of 
the wi(‘ked, if some easy opportunity of doing so offers ; 
but the man from whom all recollection of the benefit has 
passed away can never become gi-atefuL Which of the 
two do you call the worse — ^lie who is ungrateful for kind- 
ness, or he who does not even remember it P The eyes which 
fear to look at the light are diseased., oui. those which can- 
not see it are blind. It is filial impiety not to love one’s 
parents, but not to recognise them is madness. 

II. Who is so ungrateful as he who has so completely 
laid aside and cast away that which ought to be in the fore- 
front of his mind and ever l:>efore him, that he knows it not ? 
It is clear that if forgetfulness of a benefit steals over a 
man, he (jannot have often thought about repaying it. 

In short, repayment requires gratitude, time, opportunity, 
and the help of fortune ; whereas, he who remembers a 
benefit is grateful for it, and that too without expendi- 
ture. Since gratitude demands neither labour, wealth, 
nor good fortune, he who fails to render it has no excuse 
behind which to shelter himself; for he who placjes a 
benefit so far away that it is out of his sight, never could 
liave meant to be grateful for it. Just as those tools which 
are kept in use, and are daily touched by the hand, are 
never in danger of gTowing rusty, while those which are not 
Inought before our eyes, and lie as if sujxnfluous, not being 
required for common use, collect dirt by the mere lapse of 
time, so likewise that which our thoughts frequently turn 
over and renew never passes from our memory, which only 
loses those things to which it seldom directs its eyes. 

III. Besides this, there are other causes which at times 
erase the greatesi services from our minds. The first and 
most powerful of these is that, heiiig always intent npon 



CH. IV.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


55 


new objects of desire, we think, not of wliat we have, but 
of what wo are striving to obtain. Those whose mind is fixed 
entirely iipon what they hope to gain, regard with contempt 
all that is their own already. It follows that since men’s 
eagerness for something new makes them undervalue what- 
ever they have received, they do not esteem those from 
wliom they have received it. As long as we are satisfied 
with the position we have gained, we love our benefactor, 
wo look up to him, and declare that we owe our position 
entirely to him ; th^ we begin to entertain other asjnra- 
tions, and Imrry forward to attain tlicin after the manner of 
human beings, who when they liave gained much always 
(iovet more ; straightway all that we used to regard as bene- 
fits slip from our memory, and we no longer consider tlie 
i advantages which we enjoy over otluu’s, but only the in- 
solent prosperity of those who have outstripped us. Now 
no one can at the same time be both jealous and griiteful, 
because those who are jealous are querulous and sad, while 
the grateful are joyous. In the next place, since none of 
us think of any time but the present, and but few turn 
back their thouglits to the past, it results that we forget 
our tgaehers, and all the benefits which we have obtained 
from them, becainse we have altogetlier left our childhood 
behind us: thus, all that was done for us in our youth 
perishes uiiremembered, because our youth itself is never 
reviewed. What has been is regarded by every one, not 
only as past, but as gone ; and for the same reason, our 
memory is weak for what is about to happen in the future. 

IV. Here I must do Epicurus the justice to say that he 
constantly complains of our ingratitude for past benefits, 
because we cannot bring back again, or count among our 
present pleasures, those good things which we have received 
long ago, although no pleasures can be more undeniable 
than those which cannot be taken from u^. Present good 
is not yet altogether complete, some mischance may inter- 



66 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. III. 

rupt it ; the future is in suspense, and uncertain; hut what 
is past is laid up in safety. How can any luj^ feel grati- 
tude for heiiefits, if he ships through his whole life entirely 
engrossed with the present and the future ? It is remem- 
brance that makes men grateful ; and the more men hope, 
the less they remember. 

V. Ill the same way, my Liberalis, as some thiiigs remain 
ill our memory as soon as they are learned, while to know 
others it is not enough to have learned them, for our know- 
ledge slips away from us unless it beikept up— I allude to 
geometry and astronomy, and such other sciences as are 
hard to remember because of their intricacy — so the great- 
ness of some benefits prevents their being forgotten, while 
others, individually less, though many more in number, and 
bestowed at different times, pass from our minds, because, as 
I have stated above, we do not constantly think about them, 
and do not willingly recognize how much we owe to each of 
our benefactors. Listen to the words of those who ask for 
favours. There is not one of them who does not declare 
that his remembrance will be eternal, who does not vow 
himself your devoted servant and slave, or find, if he can, 
some even greater expression of humility with which to 
pledge himself. After a brj(ff space of time these same 
men avoid their former expressions, thinking them abject, 
and scarcely befitting free-born men; afterwards they arrive 
at the same point to which, as I suppose, the worst and 
most ungrateful of men come — that is, they forget. So 
little does forgetfulness excuse ingratitude, that even the 
remembrance of a benefit may leave us ungrateful. 

VI. The question has been raised, whether this most 
odious vice ought to go unpunished ; and whether the law 
commonly made use of in the schools, by which we can 
proceed against a man for ingratitude, ought to be adopted 
by the State also, 'since all men agree that it is just. “Why 
not ? ” you may say, “ seeing that even cities cast in each 



CH. VII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


57 


other’s teeth the services which they have performed to one 
another, demand from the children some return for 
benefits conferred upon their fathers ? ” On the other hand, 
our ancestors, who were most admirable men, made de- 
mands upon their enemies alone, and both gave and lost 
their benefits with magnanimity. With the exception of 
Macedonia, no nation has ever established an action at law 
for ingratitude. And this is a strong argument against its 
being established, because all agree in blaming crime; 
and homicide, poisoning, parricide, and sacrilege are visited 
with different penalties in different countries, but every- 
where with some penalty ; whereas this most common vice 
is nowhere punished, though it is everywhere blamed. We 
do not acquit it ; but as it would be most difficult to reckon 
accurately the penalty for so varying a matter, we condemn 
it only to be hated, and place it upon the list of those 
crimes which we refer for judgment to the gods. 

VII. Many arguments occur to me which prove that this 
vice ought not to come under the action of the law. First 
of all, the best part of a benefit is lost if the benefit can 
be sued for at law, as in the case of a loan, or of letting and 
hiring. Indeed, the finest part of a benefit is that we have 
given it without considering whether we shall lose it or not, 
that we have left all this to the free choice of him who 
receives it : if I call him before a judge, it begins to be not a 
benefit, but a loan, Next, though it is a most honourable 
thing to show gratitude, it ceases to be honourable if it be 
forced, for in that case no one will praise a grateful man 
any more than he praises him who restores the money 
which was deposited in his keeping, or who pays what he 
borrowed without the intervention of a judge. We should 
therefore spoil the two finest things in human life, — 
grateful man and a beneficent man ; for what is there ad- 
mirable in one who does not give but merely lends a benefit, 
or in one who repays it, not because ho wishes, but because 



58 ON BENEFITS. [pjC. Ill, 

Ik! is forced to do so ? There is no credit in being grateful, 
unless it is safe to be ungral/eful. Besides this, all the 
courts would hardly be enough for the action of this one 
law. Who would not plead under it ? Who would not be 
pleaded against? for every one exalts his own merits, every 
one magnifies even the smallest matters which he has l)e- 
stowed upon another. Besides this, those things whi(di form 
the subject of a judicial inquiry can be distinctly defined, 
and cannot afford unlimited licence to the judge; wherefore 
a good cause is in a better position if it be tried before a 
judge than before an arbitrator, because the words of the 
law tie down a judge and define certain limits beyond 
which he may not pass, whereas the conscience of an arbi- 
trator is free and not fettered by any rules, so that he can 
(iither give or take away, and can arrange his decision, not 
according to the precepts of law and justice, but just as 
his own kindly feeling or compassion may prompt him. 
An action for ingratitude would not bind a judge, but 
would place him in the position of an autocrat. It cannot 
be known what or bow great a benefit is ; all that would 
be really important would be, how indulgently the judge 
might interpret it. No law defines an ungrateful person, 
often, indeed, one wdio repays what he has received is un- 
grateful, and one who has not returned it is grateful. 
Even an unpractised judge can give his vote upon some 
matters ; for instance, when the thing to be determined is 
whether something has or has not been done, when a dispute 
is terminated by the parties giving written bonds, or when 
the casting up of accounts decides between the disputants. 
Wlien, however, motives have to be guesSed at, when matters 
upon which wisdom alone can decide, are brought into court, 
they cannot be tried by a judge talcen at random from the 
list of “select judges/’^ wdiom proi)erty and the inheritance 
of an equestrian fortune has j>laced upon the roll, 

^ See binitli’s “ Diet, uf Antuj[./’ g.v. * 400,000 sesterce#. 



ON BENEFITS. 


59 


CH. VIII.] 

VIII. Ingratitude, therefore, is not only matter unfit to 
he brought mto court, but no judge could be found fit to 
try it ; and this you will not be surprised at, if you exa- 
mine the difficulties of any one who should attempt to 
prosecute a man upon such a charge. One man may have 
given a large sum of money, but he is rich and would not 
feel it ; another may have given it at the cost of his entire 
inheritance. The sum given is the same in each case, but 
the benefit conferred is not the same. Add another in- 
stance : suppose that to redeem a debtor from slavery one 
man paid money from his own private means, while another 
man paid the same sum, but had to borrow it or beg for it, 
and allow himself to be laid under a great obligation to 
some one ; would you rank the mini who so easily bestowed 
his benefit on an equality with him who was obliged to 
receive a benefit himself before he coiiW bestow it ? Some 
benefits are great, not because of their amount, but because 
of the time at which they are bestowed; it is a benefit to 
give an estate whose fertility can bring down the price of 
corn, and it is a benefit to give a loaf of bread in time of 
famine ; it is a benefit to give provinces through which 
flow vast navigable rivers, and it is a benefit, when men 
are parched vdth thirst, and can scarcely draw breath 
through their dry throats, to show them a spring of 
water. Who will compare these cases with one another, 
or weigh one against the other? It is hard to give a 
decision when it is not the thing given, but its meaning, 
which has to be considered ; thougli wliat is given is 
the same, yet if it be given under different circumstances 
it has a different value. A mau may have bestowed a 
lienefit upon me, but unwillingly ; he may have coni- 
]-)lained of having given it; he may have looked at mo 
with greater haughtiness than he was wont to do ; he may 
have been so slow in giving it, that he would have done me 
a greater service if he had promptly refused it. How could 



60 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bK. Ill, 

a judge estimate the value of these things, when words, hesi- 
tation, or looks can destroy all their claim to gratitude 2. 

IX. Wliat, again, could he do, seeing that some things 
are called benefits because they are unduly coveted, whilst 
others are not benefits at all, acccording to this common 
valuation, yet are of even greater value, though not so 
showy ? You call it a benefit to cause a man to be adopted 
as a member of a powerful city, to get him enrolled among 
the knights, or to defend one who is being tried for his 
life : what do you say of him who gives useful advice ? of 
him who holds you back when you would rush into crime? 
of him who strikes the sword from the hands of the suicide ? 
of him who by his power of consolation brings back to the 
duties of life one who was plunged in grief, and eager to 
follow those whom he had lost ? of him who sits at the 
bedside of the sick man, and who, when health and reco- 
very depend upon seizing the right moment, administers 
food in due season, stimulates the failing veins with wine, 
or calls in the physician to the dying man ? Who can esti- 
mate the value of such services as these ? who can bid us 
weigh dissimilar benefits one with another ? "I gave you 
a house,” says one. Yes, but I forewarned you that your 
own house would come down upon your head. “ I gave you 
an estate,” says he. True, but I gave a plank to you when 
shipwrecked. ‘‘ I fought for you and received wounds for 
you,” says another. But I saved your life by keeping 
silence. Since a benefit is both given and returned differently 
by different people, it is hard to make them balance. 

X. Besides this, no day is appointed for repayment of a 
benefit, as there is for borrowed money ; consequently he 
who has not yet repaid a benefit may do so hereafter : for 
tell me, pray, within what time a man is to l>e declared 
ungrateful? The greatest benefits cannot be proved by 
evidence j they often lurk in the silent consciousness of twa» 
men only ; are we to introduo" the rule of not bestowing 



CH. XI.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


61 


benefits without witnesses ? Next, what punishment are 
we to appoint for the ungrateful ? is there to be one only 
for all, thoug'h the benefits which they have received are 
different? or should the punishment be varying, greater 
or less according to the benefit which each has received ? 
Are our valuations to be restricted to pecuniary fines? 
what are we to do, seeing that in some cases the benefit 
conferred is life, and things dearer than life? What 
punishment is to be assigned to ingratitude for these? 
One less than the benefit ? Tliat would be unjust. One 
equal to it ; death ? What could be more inhuman than to 
cause benefits to result in cruelty ? 

XI. It may be argued, “ Parents have certain privileges : 
these are regarded as exempt from the action of ordinary 
rules, and so also ought to be the case with other beneficent 
persons.” Nay ; mankind has assigned a peculiar sanctity 
to the position of parents, because it was advantageous that 
children should be reared, and people had to be tempted 
into undergoing the toil of doing so, because the issue of 
their experiment was doubtful. One cannot say to them, 
as one does to others who bestow benefits, “Choose the man 
to whom you give : you must only blame yourself if you 
are deceived; help the deserving.” In rearing children 
nothing depends upon the judgment of those who rear 
them; it is a matter of hope: in order, therefore, that 
people may be more willing to embark upon tliis lottery, it 
was right that they should be given a certain authority ; 
and since it is useful for youth to be governed, we have 
placed their parents in the position of domestic magistrates, 
under whose guardianship their lives may be ruled. More- 
over, the position of parents differs from that of other bene- 
factors, for their having given formerly to their children does 
not stand in the way of their giving now and hereafter ; 
and also, there is no fear of their falsely asserting that 
they have given : with others one has to inquire not only 



ON BENEFITS. 


62 


[bk. Tir. 


whether they have received, but whether they have given; 
l)iit the good dee4s of parents are placed beyond doubt. 
In the next place, one benefit bestowed by psfi'ents is the 
same for all, and might be counted once for all ; wliile the 
others which they bestow are of various kinds, unlike one 
to another, differing from one another by the widest possible 
intervals ; they can therefore come under no regular rule, 
since it would be more just to leave them all unrewarded 
than to give the same reward to all. 

XII. Some benefits cost much to the givers, some are of 
much value to the receivers but cost the givers nothing. 
Some are bestowed upon friends, others on strangers : now 
although that which is given be the same, yet it becomes 
more when it is given to one with whom you are beginning 
to be acquainted through the benefits which you have 
previously conferred upon him. One man may give us 
help, another distinctions, a third consolation. You may 
find one who thinks nothing pleasanter or more important 
than to have some one to save him from distress ; you may 
again find one who would rather be helped to great place 
than to security ; while some consider themselves more in- 
debted to those who save their lives than to those who save 
their honour. Each of these services will be held more or 
less important, according as the disposition of our judge in- 
clines to one or the other of them. Besides this, I choose my 
creditors for myself, whereas I often receive benefits from 
those from whom I would not, and sometimes I am laid 
under an obligation' without my knowledge. What will you 
do in such a case ? Wlien a man lias received a benefit un- 
Imown to himself, and which, had he known of it, he would 
have refused to receive, will you call him ungrateful if ho 
does not repay it, however he may have received it ? Sup- 
pose that some one has bestowed a benefit upon me, and that 
the same man has afterwards done me some wrong ; am 
I to be bound by his one bounty to endure with patience 



CH. XIII.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


63 


any wrong that he may do me, or will it he the same as if 
I had repaid it, because he himself has by the subsequent 
wrong cancelled his own benefit ? How, in that case, would 
you decide which was the greater ; the j^resent which the 
man has received, or the injury which has been done him ? 
Time would fail me if I attempted to discuss all the diffi- 
culties which would arise. 

XIII. It may be argued that “ we render men less willing 
to confer benefits by not supporting tlie claim of those 
which have been bestowed to meet with gratitude, and by 
not punishing those who repudiate them,” But you would 
find, on the other hand, tliat men would be far less willing 
to receive benefits, if by so doing they were likely to incur 
the danger of having to plead their cause in court, and 
having more difficulty in proving their integrity. This 
legislation would also render us less willing to give : for no 
one is willing to give to those who are un willing to receive, 
but one who is urged to acts of kindness by Ins own good 
nature and by the beauty of charity, will give all tlie more 
freely to those who need make no return unless they 
choose. It impairs the credit of doing a service, if in doing 
it we are carefully protected from loss. 

XIV. “ Benefits, then, will be fewer, but more genuine : 
well, what harm is there in restricting people from giving 
recklessly ? ” Even those who would have no legislation upon 
the subject follow this rule, that we ought to be somewhat 
careful in giving, and in choosing those upon whom we be- 
stow favours. Reflect over and over again to whom you 
are giving : you will have no remedy at law, no means of 
enforcing repayment. You are mistaken if you suppose 
that the judge will assist you: no law will make full 
restitution to you, you must look only to the honour of the 
receiver. Thus only can benefits retain their influence, and 
thus only are they admirable : you dishopour them if you 
make them the grounds of litigation. “Pay what you 



64 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. III. . 


owe ” is a m^st just proverl), and one wliicli carries witliit 
the. sanction of all nations ; but in dealing with benefits it 
is most shameful. “Pay ! ” How is a man to p£ty who owes 
his life, his position, his safety, or his reason to another? 
None of the greatest benefits can be repaid. “ Yet,” it is 
said, “ you ought to give in return for them something of 
equal value.” This is just what I have been saying, that 
the grandeur of the act is ruined if we make our benefits 
commercial transactions. We ought not to encourage our- 
selves in avarice, in discontent, or in quarrels ; the human 
mind is prone enough to these by nature. As far as we 
are able, let us check it, and cut off the opportunities for 
which it seeks. 

XV. W ould that we could indeed persuade men to receive 
back money which they have lent from those debtors only 
who are willing to pay ! would that no agreement ever bound 
the buyer to the seller, and that their interests were not pro-’ 
tected by sealed covenants and agreements, but rather by 
honour and a sense of justice ! However, men prefer what; 
is needful to what is truly best, and choose rather to force 
their creditors to keep faith with them than to trust that 
they will do so. Witnesses are called on both sides ; the 
one, by calling in brokers, makes several names appear in 
his accounts as his debtors instead of one ; the other is not 
content with the legal forms of question and answer unless 
he holds the other party by the hand. What a shameful 
admission of the dishonesty and wickedness of mankind ! 
men trust more to our signet-rings than to our intentions. 
For wliat are these respectable men summoned ? for what 
do they impress their seals ? it is in order that the borrower 
may not deny that he has received what he has received. 
You regard these men, I suppose, as above bribes, as main- 
tainers of the truth : well, these very men will not be en- 
trusted with money except on the same terms. Would it not, 
then, be more honourable to be deceived by some than to 



ON BENEFITS. 


65 


CH. XVI.] 

suspect all men of dishonesty ? To fill up the measure of 
avarice one tiling only is lacking, that we should bestow no 
benefit wiluuuL a surety. To help, to be of service, is the 
part of a generous and noble mind ; he who gives acts like 
a god, he who demands repayment acts like a money-lender. 
Why then, by trying to protect the rights of the former 
class, should we reduce them to the level of the basest of 
mankind ? 

XVI. “ More men,” our opponent argues, “ will be un- 
grateful, if no legal remedy exists against ingratitude.” 
Nay, fewer, because then benefits will be bestowed with 
more discrimination. In the next place, it is not advisable 
that it should be publicly known how many ungrateful 
men there are : for the number of sinners will do away with 
the disgrace of the sin, and a reproach which applies to all 
men will cease to be dishonourable. Is any woman ashamed 
of being divorced, now that some noble ladies reckon the 
years of their lives, not by the number of the consuls, but 
by that of their husbands, now that they leave tlieir homes 
in order to marry others, and marry only in order to be 
divorced? Divorce was only dreaded as long as it was 
unusual ; now that no gazette appears without it, women 
learn to do what they hear so much about. Can any one 
feel ashamed of adultery, now that things have come to 
such a pass that no woman keeps a husband at all, unless 
it be to pique her lover? Chastity merely implies ugliness. 
Where will you find any woman so abject, so repulsive, 
as to be satisfied with a single pair of lovers, without 
having a different one for each hour of the day ; nor is 
the day long enough for all of them, unless she has taken 
her airing in the grounds of one, and passes the night with 
another. A woman is frumpish and old-fashioned if she 
does not know that “ adultery with one paramour is nick- 
named marriage,” Just as all shame ar inese vices has 
disappeared since the vice itself became so widely spread, 



ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. in. 


t)() 

SO if you made the ungrateful begin to count their own 
numbers, you would both make them more numerous, and 
enable them to be ungrateful with greater impunity. 

XVII. “What then? shall the ungrateful man go un- 
punished ? ” What then, I answer, shall we punish the 
undutiful, the malicious, the avaricious, the headstrong, 
and the cruel ? Do you imagine that those things which 
are loathed are not punished, or do you suppose that any 
punishment is greater than the hate of all men ? It is a 
punishment not to dare to receive a benefit from anyone, 
not to dare to bestow one, to be, or to fancy that you are 
a mark for all men’s eyes, and to lose all appreciation of 
so excellent and pleasant a matter. Do you call a man 
unhappy who has lost his sight, or whose hearing has been 
impaired by disease, and do you not call him wretched who 
has lost the power of feeling benefits ? He fears the gods, 
the witnesses of all ingratitude ; he is tortured by the 
thought of the benefit which he has misapplied, and, in 
fine, he is sufficiently punished by tliis great penalty, that, 
as I said before, he cannot enjoy the fruits of this most 
delightful act. On the other hand, he who takes pleasure 
in receiving a benefit, enjoys an unvarying and continuous 
happiness, which he derives from consideration, not of the 
thing given, but of the intention of the giver. A benefit 
gives perpetual joy to a grateful man, but pleases an un- 
grateful one only for a moment. Can the lives of such 
men be compared, seeing that the one is sad and gloomy — 
as it is natural that a denier of his debts and a defrauder 
should be, a man who does not give his parents, his nurses, 
or his teachers the honour which is their due — while the 
other is joyous, cheerful, on the watch for an opportunity 
of proving his gratitude, and gaining much pleasure from 
this frame of mind itself ? Such a man has no wish to 
become bankrupt, but only to make the fullest and most 
copious return for benefits and that not only to parents 



CE. XVIII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


67 


and friends, but also to more bumble persons ; for even 
if be receives a. benefit from bis own slave, be does not 
consider from whom be receives it, but what he receives. 

XVUI. It has, however, been doubted by Hecaton and 
seme other writers, whether a slave can bestow a benefit 
upon his master. Some distinguish between benefits, 
duties, and services, calling those things benefits which 
are bestowed by a stranger — that is, by one who could dis- 
(‘ontinue them without blame-while duties are performed 
by our children, our wives, and those whom relationship 
prompts and orders to afford us help ; and, thirdly, ser- 
vices are performed by slaves, whose position is such that 
nothing which they do for their master can give them any 
chim upon him. 

Besides this, he who affirms that a slave does not some- 
times confer a benefit upon his master is ignorant of the 
rights of man ; for the question is, not what the station 
in life of the giver may be, but what his intentions are. 
The path of virtue is closed to no one, it lies open to all ; 
it admits and invites all, whether they be free-born men, 
slaves or freed-men, tings or exiles ; it requires no quali- 
fications of family or of property, it is satisfied with a 
mere man. What, indeed, should we have to trust to for 
defence against sudden misfortunes, what could a noble 
mind promise to itself to keep unshaken, if virtue could 
be lost together with prosperity ? If a slave cannot confer 
a benefit upon his master, then no subject can confer a 
benefit upon his king, and no soldier upon his genei-al ; for 
60 long as the man is subject to supreme authority, the 
form of authority can make no difference. If main force, 
or the fear of death and torture, can prevent a slave from 
gaming any title to his master’s gratitude, they will also 
prevent the subjects of a king, or the soldiers of a genciral 
from doing so, for the same things nmj' li^ppen to either 
of these classes of men, though under different names. 



68 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bK. III. 

Yet men do bestow benefits upon their kings and their 
generals ; therefore slaves can bestow benefit^, upon their 
masters. A slave can be just, brave, magnanimous ; he 
can therefore bestow a benefit, for this is also the part of a 
virtuous man. So true is it that slaves can bestow benefits 
upon their masters, that the masters have often owed 
their lives to them. 

XIX. There is no doubt that a slave can bestow a bene- 
fit upon anyone ; why, then, not ujiGn his master? “Be- 
cause,” it is argued, “he cannot become his master’s 
creditor if he gives him money. If this be not so, he daily 
lays his master under an obligation to him; he attends 
him when on a journey, he nurses him when sick, he works 
most laboriously at the cultivation of his estate ; yet all 
these, which would be called benefits if done for us by any- 
one else, are merely called service when done by a slave. 
A benefit is that which some one bestows who has the 
oj)tion of withholding it: now a slave has no power to 
refuse, so that he does not afford us his help, but obeys our 
orders, and cannot boast of having done what he could not 
leave undone,” Even under these conditions I shall win 
the day, and will place a slave in such positions, that for 
many purposes he will be free ; in the meanwhile, tell me, 
if I give you an instance of a slave fighting for his master’s 
safety without regard to himself, pierced through with 
wounds, yet spending the last drops of his blood, and gain- 
ing time for his master to escape by the sacrifice of his 
life, will you say that this man did not bestow a benefit 
upon his master because he was a slave ? If I give an 
instance of one who could not be bribed to betray his 
master’s secrets by any of the offers of a tyrant, who was 
not terrified by any threats, nor overpowered by any tor- 
tures, but who, as far as he was able, placed his questioners 
upon a wrong scent, and paid for his loyalty with his life, 
will you say that this man did not confer a benefit upon 



CH. XX.J ON BENEFITS. 69 

his master because he was a slave? Consider, rather, 
whether an example of virtue in a slave be not all the 
greater because it is rarer than in free men, and whether 
it be not all the more gra,tifymg that, although to be com- 
manded is odious, and all submission to authority is irk- 
some, yet in some particular cases love for a master has 
been more powerful than men’s general dislike to servi- 
tude. A benefit does not, therefore, (jease to be a benefit 
because it is bestowed by a slave, but is all tlie greater on 
that account, because not even slavery could restrain him 
from bestowing it. 

XX. It is a mistake to imagine that slavery pervades a 
man’s whole being ; the better part of him is exempt from 
it : the body indeed is subjected and in the power of a 
master, but the mind is independent, and indeed is so free 
and wild, that it cannot Ix' restrained even by this prison 
of the body, wherein it is confined, from following its 
own impulses, dealing with gigantic designs, and soaring 
into the infinite, accompanied by all the host of heaven. 
It is, therefore, only the body which misfortune hands 
over to a master, and which he buys and sells ; this in- 
ward part cannot be transferred as a chattel. Whatever 
comes from this, is free ; indeed, we are not allowed to 
order all things to be done, nor are slaves compelled to 
obey us in all things ; they will not curry out treasonable 
orders, or lend their hands to an act of crime. 

XXI. There are some things which tlie law neither 
enjoins nor forbids ; it is in these that a slave finds the 
means of bestowing benefits. As long as we only receive 
what is generally demanded from a slave, that is mere 
service ; when more is given than a slave need alford us, 
it is a benefit ; as soon as what he does begins to partake 
of the affection of a friend, it can no longer be called 
service. There are certain things with A^hich a master is 
bound to provide his slave, much as food and elothing ; no 



70 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bK. III. 

one calls tMs a benefit ; but supposing that he indulges 
his slaTC, educates him above his station, teaches him arts 
which free-born men learn, that is a benefit. The converse 
is true in the case of the slave; anything which goes 
beyond the rules of a slave’s duty, which is done of his 
own free will, and not in obedience to orders, is a benefit, 
provided it be of sufiicient importance to be called by such 
a name if bestowed by any other person, 

XXII. It has pleased Chrysippus to define a slave as “ a 
hireling for life.” Just as a hireling bestows a benefit 
when he does more than he engaged himself to do, so when 
a slave’s love for his master raises him above his condition 
and urges him to do something noble — something whicli 
would be a credit even to men more fortunate by birth — 
he surpasses the hopes of his master, and is a benefit found 
in the house. Do you think it is just that we should be 
angry with our slaves when they do less than their duty, 
and that we should not be grateful to them when they do 
more ? Do you wish to know when their service is not a 
benefit ? When the question can be asked, “ What if he 
had refused to do it?” When he does that which he 
might have refused to do, we must praise his good will. 
Benefits and wrongs are opposites ; a slave can bestow a 
benefit upon his master, if he can receive a wrong from his 
master. Xow an official has been appointed to hear com- 
plaints of the wrongs done by masters to their slaves, 
whose duty it is to restrain cruelty and lust, or avarice in 
providing them with the necessaries of life. What follows, 
then ? Is it the master who receives a benefit from his 
slave ? nay, rather, it is one man who receives it from 
another. Lastly, he did all that lay in his power; he 
bestowed a benefit upon his master ; it lies in your power 
to receive or not to receive it from a slave. Yet who is 
so exalted, that fortune may not make him need the aid 
even of the lowliest ? 



OIT BENEFITS. 


71 


CH. XXIII.] 

XXIII. I shall now quote a number of instances of 
benej&ts, not all alike, some even contradictory. Some 
slaves liavd given their master life, some death; hav(! 
saved him when perishing, or, as if that were not eiiongh, 
have saved him by their own death ; others have helped 
their master to die, some have saved his life by stratagem, 
Claudius Quadrigarius tells us in the eighteenth book of 
his “ Annals,” that when Gi'umentmn was being besieged, 
and had been reduced to the greatest straits, two slaves 
deserted to the enemy, and did valuable service. After- 
wards, when the city was taken, and the victors were rush- 
ing wildly in every direction, they ran before every one 
else along the streets, which they well knew, to the house 
in which they had been slaves, and drove their mistress 
before them ; when they were asked who she might l)e, 
they answered that she was their mistress, and a most 
cruel one, and tliat they were leading her aAvay for piinisli- 
ment. They led her outside the walls, and concealed her 
with the greatest care until the fighting was over ; then, 
as the soldiery, satisfied with the sack of the city, quickly 
resumed the manners of Eomans, they also returned to 
their own countrymen, and themselves restored their mis- 
tress to them. She manumitted each of them on the spot, 
and was not ashamed to receive her life from men over 
whom she had held the power of life and death. She 
might, indeed, especially congratulate herself upon this ; 
for had she been saved otherwise, she wmuld merely have 
received a common and hackneyed piece of kindness, 
whereas, by being saved as she was, she became a glorious 
legend, and an example to two cities. In the confusion of 
the captured city, when every one was thinking only of his 
own safety, all deserted her except these deserters ; but 
they, that they might prove what had been their intentions 
in effecting that desertion, deserted again from the victors 
to the captive, wearing the masks of unnatural murderers. 



7ii ON BENEriTa. [BK. III. 

They thought — and this was the greatest part of the service 
which they rendered — they were content to seem to have 
murdered their mistress, if thereby their mistress might be 
saved from murder. Believe me, it is the mark of no slavish 
soul to purchase a noble deed by the semblance of crime. 

When Vettius, the prsetor of the Marsi, was being led 
into the presence of the Eoman general, his slave snatched 
a sword from the soldier who was dragging him along, and 
first slew his master. Then he said, “ It is now time for me 
to look to myself ; I have already set my master free,” and 
with these words transfixed himself with one blow. Can you 
tell me of anyone who saved his master more gloriously ? 

XXIV. When Caesar was besieging Corfinium, Domitius, 
who was shut up in the city, ordered a slave of his own, 
who was also a physician, to give him poison. Observing 
the man’s hesitation, he said, “Why do you delay, as 
though the whole business was in your power ? I ask for 
death with arms in my hands.” Then the slave assented, 
and gave him a harmless drug to drink. When Domitius 
fell asleep after drinking this, the slave went to his son, 
and said, “ Grive orders for my being kept in custody until 
you learn from the result whether I have given your father 
poison or no.” Domitius lived, and Caesar saved his life ; 
but his slave had saved it before. 

XXV. During the civil war, a slave liid his master, who 
had been proscribed, put on his rings and clothes, met the 
soldiers who were searching for him, and, after declaring 
that he would not stoop to entreat them not to carry out 
their orders, offered his neck to their swords. What a 
noble spirit it shows in a slave to have been willing to die 
for his master, at a time when few were faithful enough to 
wish their master to live ! to be found kind when the state 
was cruel, faithful when it was treacherous ! to be eager 
for the rcAvard of .fidelity, though it was death, at a time 
when such rich rewards were offered for treachery ! 



CH. XXVI.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


73 


XXVI. I will not j)ass over the instances which our own 
age affords. In the reign of Tiberius Caesar, there was a 
common and almost universal frenzy for informing, which 
was more ruinous to the citizens of Eome than the whole 
civil war ; the talk of drunkards, the frankness of jesters, 
was alike reported to the government ; nothing was safe ; 
every opportunity of ferocious punishment was seized, 
and men no longer waited to hear the fate of accused per- 
sons, since it was always the same. One Paulns, of the 
Praetorian guard, was at an entertainment, wearing a por- 
trait of Tiberius Caesar engraved in relief upon a gem. It 
would be absurd for me to beat about the bush for some 
delicate way of explaining that he took up a chamber-pot, 
an action which was at once noticed by Maro, one of the 
most notorious informers of that time, and the slave of the 
man who was about to fall into the trap, who drew the ring 
from the finger of his drunken master. When Maro called 
the guests to witness that Paulus had dishonoured the por- 
trait of the emperor, and was already drawing up an act of 
accusation, the slave showed the ring upon his own finger. 
Such a man no more deserves to be called a slave, than 
Maro deserved to be called a guest. 

XXVII. In the reign of Augustus men’s own words were 
not yet able to ruin them, yet they sometimes brought them 
into trouble. A senator named Kufus, while at dinner, 
expressed, a hope that Caesar would not return safe from a 
journey for which he was preparing, and added that all 
bulls and calves wished the same thing. Some of those 
present carefully noted these words. At daybreak, the 
slave who had stood at his feet during the dinner, told 
him what he had said in his cups, and urged him to be tlie 
first to go to Caesar, and denounce himself. Eufus followed 
this advice, met Caesar as he was going down to the forum, 
and, swearing that he was out of his mind*the day before, 
prayed that what he had said might fall upon his own 



74 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. hi; 


head and that of his children ; he then begged Caesar to 
pardon him, and to take him back into favour. When 
Caesar said that he would do so, he added, No one will 
believe that you have taken me back into favour unless you 
make me a present of something ; ” and he asked for and 
obtained a sum of money so large, that it would have been 
a gift not to be slighted even if bestowed by an unoffended 
prince. Caesar added : “ In future I will take care never 
to quarrel with you, for my own sake.” Caesar acted 
honourably in pardoning him, and in being liberal as well 
as forgiving ; no one can hear this anecdote without praising 
Caesar, but he must praise the slave first. You need not 
wait for me to tell you that the slave who did his master 
tliis service was set free ; yet his master did. not do this for 
nothing, for Caesar had already j)aid him the price of the 
slave’s liberty. 

XXVIII. After so many instances, can we doubt that a 
master may sometimes receive a benefit from a slave? 
Whj need the person of the giver detract from the thing 
which he gives ? why should not the gift add rather to the 
glory of the giver. All men descend from the same original 
stock ; no one is better born than another, except in so far 
as his disposition is nobler and better suited for the per- 
formance of good actions. Those who display portraits of 
their ancestors in their halls, and set up in the entrance to 
their houses the pedigree of their family drawn out at 
length, with many complicated collateral branches, ar^* 
they not notorious rather than noble? The universe is 
the one parent of all, whether they trace their descent 
from this primary source through a glorious or a mean 
line of ancestors. Be not deceived when men who are 
reckoning up their genealogy, wherever an illustrious name 
is wanting, foist in that of a god in its place. You need 
despise no one,*even though he bears a commonplace name, 
and owes little to fortune. Wliether your immediate an- 



CH, XXIX,] 


ON BENEFITS. 


75 


cestors were freedmeii, or slaves, or foreigners, pluck up 
your spirits boldly, and leap over any intervening disgraces 
of your pedigree ; at its source, a noble origin awaits you. 
Wby should our pride inflate us to such a degree that we 
think it beneath us to receive benefits from slaves, and think 
only of their position, forgetting their good deeds? You, 
the slave of lust, of gluttony, of a harlot, nay, who are 
owned as a joint chattel by harlots, can you call anyone 
else a slave ? Call a man a slave ? why, I pray you, whither 
are you being hurried by those bearers who carry your litter ? 
whither are these men with their smart military-looking 
cloaks carrying you ? is it not to the door of some door- 
keeper, or to the gardens of some one who has not e vcui a sub- 
ordinate oflice? and then you, who regard the salute of an- 
other man’ s slave as a benefit, declare that you cannot receive 
a benefit from your own slave. What inconsistency is this ? 
At the same time you despise and fawn upon slaves, you 
are haughty and violent at home, while out of doors you 
are meek, and as much despised as you despise your 
slaves; for none abase themselves lower than those who un- 
conscionably give themselves airs, nor are any more prepared 
to trample upon others than those who have learned how to 
offer insults by having endured them. 

XXIX I felt it my duty to say this, in order to crush 
the arrogance of men who are themselves at the mercy of 
fortune, and to claim the right of bestowing a benefit for 
slaves, in order that I may claim it also for sons. The 
question arises, whether children can ever bestow upon 
their parents greater benefits than those which they have 
received from them. 

It is granted that many sons become greater and more 
powerful than their parents, and also that they are better 
men. If this be true, they may give better gifts to their 
fathers than they have received from tliem, seeing that 
their fortune and their good nature are alike greater than 



76 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. hi. 


that of tlieir father. “Whatever a father receives from 
his son,” our opponent will urge, “ must in any case be less 
than what the son received from him, because fbe son owes 
to his father the very power of giving. Therefore the father 
can never be surpassed in the bestowal of benefits, because 
the benefit which sur]}asses his own is really his.” I 
answer, that some things derive their first origin from 
others, yet are greater than those others ; and a thing 
may be greater than that from which it took its rise, al- 
though without that thing to start from it never could 
have grown so great. All things greatly outgrow their 
beginnings. Seeds are the causes of all things, and yet 
are the smallest part of the things which they produce. 
Look at the Ehine, or the Euphrates, or any other famous 
rivers ; how small they are, if you only view them at the 
place from whence they take their rise ? they gain all that 
makes them terrible and renowned as they flow along. 
Look at the trees which are tallest if you consider tlieir 
height, and the broadest if you look at their thickness and 
the spread of their branches ; compared with all this, how 
small a part of them is contained in the slender fibres of 
the root ? Yet take away their roots, and no more groves 
will arise, nor great mountains be clothed with trees. 
Temples and cities are supported by their foundations; 
yet what is built as the foundation of the entire building 
lies out of sight. So it is in other matters ; the subsequent 
greatness of a thing ever eclipses its origin. I could never 
have obtained any thing without having previously received 
the boon of existence from my parents ; yet it does not 
follow from this that whatever I obtain is less than that 
without which I could not obtain it. If my nurse had not 
fed me when I was a child, I should not have been able to 
conduct any of those entei’prises which I now carry on, 
both with my head and with my hand, nor should I ever 
have obtained the fame which is due to my labours both 



ON BENEFITS. 


77 


CH, XXX.] 

in jieace and war ; would you on that account argue that 
the services a nurse were more valuable than the most 
important undertakings? Yet is not the nurse as im- 
portant as the father, since without the benefits which I 
have received from each of them alike, I should have been 
alike unable to, effect a.nvt.hiup- ? If I owe all that I now 
can do to my original begmmng, I cannot regard my father 
or my grandfather as being this original beginning ; there 
always will be a spring further back, from which the spring 
next below is derived. Yet no one will argue that I owe 
more to unknown and forgotten ancestors than to my 
father ; though really I do owe them more, if I owe it to 
my ancestors that my father begat me. 

XXX. “ Wliatever I have bestowed upon my father,” 
says my opponent, “ however great it may be, yet is less 
valuable than what my father has bestowed upon me, 
because if he had not begotten me, it never could have 
existed at all.” By this mode of reasoning, if a man has 
healed my father when ill, and at the point of death, I 
shall not be able to bestow anything upon him equivalent 
to what I have received from him ; for had my father not 
been healed, he could not have begotten me. Yet think 
whether it be not nearer the truth to regard all that I can 
do, and all that I have done, as mine, due to my own 
powers and my own will ? Consider what the fact of my 
birth is in itself ; you will see that it is a small matter, the 
outcome of which is dubious, and that it may lead equally 
to good or to evil ; no doubt it is the first step to every- 
thing, but because it is the first, it is not on that account 
more important than all the others. Suppose that I have 
saved my father’s life, raised him to the highest honours, 
and made him the chief man in his city, that I have not 
merely made him illustrious by my own deeds, but have 
furnished him himself with an opportuniiy of performing 
great exuloits, which is at once important, easy, and safe. 



78 


ON BENEFITS, 


[BK. Ill, 


as well as glorious ; that I have loaded him with appoint- 
meiits, wealth, and all that attracts men’s minces ; still, even 
when I surpass all others, I am inferior to him. Now if you 
say, “ You owe to your father the power of doing all this,” 
I shall answer, “ Quite true, if to do all tins it is only neces- 
sary to he bom; but if life is merely an unimportant 
factor in the art of living well, and if you have bestowed 
upon me only that which I have in common with wild 
beasts and the smallest, and some of the foulest of crea- 
tures, do not claim for yourself what did not come into 
being in consequence of the benefits which yon bestowed, 
even though it could not have come into being without 
them.” 

XXXI. Suppose, father, that I have saved your life, in 
return for the life which I received from you : in this case 
also I have outdone your benefit, been, use I have given life 
to one who understands what I have done, and because I 
understood what I was doing, since I gave you your life 
not for the sake of, or by the means of my own pleasure ; 
for just as it is less terrible to die before one has time to 
fear death, so it is a much greater boon to preserve one’s 
life than to receive it. I have given life to one who will 
at oiKje enjoy it, you gave it to one who knew not if he 
slioiild ever live ; I have given life to one who was in fear 
of death, your gift of life merely enables me to die ; I have 
given you a life complete, perfect ; you begat me without 
intelligence, a burden upon others. Do you wish to know 
how far from a benefit it was to give life under such con- 
ditions? You should have exposed me as a child, for you 
did me a wrong in begetting me. What do I gather from 
this? That the cohabitation of a father and mother is 
the very least of benefits to their child, unless in addition 
this beginning pf kindnesses be followed up by others, and 
confirmed by other services. It is not a good thing to live, 
but to live well. “Bnt,”say you, “Idolive well.” True, but 



Cfl. XXXIl.l ON BENEFITS. 79 

I might have hved ill ; so that your part in me is merely 
this, that I liye. If you claim merit to yourself for giving 
me mere life, bare and helpless, and boast of it as a great 
]}Oon, reflect that this you claim merit for giving me is a 
boon which I possess in common with flies and worms. In 
the next place, if I say no more than that I have applied 
myself to honourable pursuits, and have guided the course 
of my life along the path of rectitude, then you have 
received more from your benefit than you gave ; for you 
gave me to myself ignorant and unlearned, and I have 
returned to you a son such as you would wish to have 
begotten. 

XXXTI. My father supported me. If I repay tliis kind- 
ness, I give him more than I received, because he has the 
pleasure, not only of being supported, Imt of being sup- 
ported by a son, and receives more delight from my filial 
devotion than from the food itself, whereas the food which 
he used to give me merely affected my body, What? if 
any man rises so liigh as to become famous among nations 
for his eloquence, his justice, or his military skill, if miudi 
of the splendour of his renown is shed upon his father also, 
and by its clear light dispels the obscurity of his birth, 
does not su(!h a man confer an inestimable benefit upon 
his parents ? Would anyone have heard of Aristo and 
Oryllus except through Xeno])hon and Plato, their sons ? 
Socrates keeps alive the memory of Sophroniscus. It 
would take long to recount the other men whose names 
survive for no other reason than that the admirable quali- 
ties of their sons have handed them down to posterity. 
Did the father of Marcus Agrippa, of whom nothing was 
known, even after Agrippa became famous, confer the 
greater benefit upon , his son, or w^as that greater which 
Agrippa conferred upon his father when he gained the 
glory, unique in the annals of war, of a naval crown, and 
when he raised so many vast buildings in Rome, which 



80 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be in. 

not only surpassed all former grandeur, but have been 
surpassed by none since ? Did Octavius coj^fer a greater 
benefit upon bis son, or the Emperor Augustus upon his 
father, obscured as he was by the intervention of an adop- 
tive father? What joy would he have experienced, if, 
after the putting down of the civil war, he had seen his 
son ruling the state in peace and security ? He would not 
have recognized the good which he had himself bestowed, 
and would hardly have believed, when he looked back upon 
himself, that so great a man could have been born in his 
house. Why should I go on to speak of others who would 
now be forgotten, if the glory of their sons had not raised 
them from obscurity, and kept them in the light until this 
day ? In the next place, as we are not considering what 
son may have given back to his father greater benefits than 
he received from him, but whether a son can give back 
greater benefits, even if the examples which I have quoted 
are not sufiicient, and such benefits do not outweigh the 
benefits bestowed by the parents, if no age has produced 
an actual example, still it is not in the nature of things 
impossible. Though no solitary act can outweigh the 
deserts of a parent, yet many such acts combined by one 
son may do so. 

XXXm. Scipio, while under seventeen years of age, 
rode among the enemy in battle, and saved his father’s 
life. Was it not enough, that in order to reach his father 
be despised so many dangers when they were pressing- 
hardest upon the greatest generals, that he, a novice in 
his first battle, made his way through so many obstacles, 
over the bodies of so many veteran soldiers, and showed 
strength and courage beyond his years? Add to this, 
that he also defended his father in court, and saved him 
from a plot of his powerful enemies, that he heaped upon 
him a second and a third consulship and other posts 
which were coveted even by conaulars, that when his father 



ON BENEFITS. 


81 


CH. XXXIV.] 

was poor lie bestowed upon Mm the plunder which he took 
by military licence, and that he made him rich with tlie 
spoils of th^ enemy, which is the greatest honour of a 
soldier. If even this did not repay his debt, add to it 
that he caused him to be constantly employed in the 
government of provinces and in special commands, add, 
that after he had destroyed the greatest cities, and became 
without a rival either in the east or in the west, the 
acknowledged protector and second founder of tlie Koman 
Empire, he bestowed upon one who was already of noble 
birth the higher title of “ the father of Scipio ; ” can we 
doubt that the commonplace benefit of his birth was out- 
done by his exemplary conduct, and by the valour which 
was at once the glory and the protection of his country ? 
Next, if this be not enough, suppose that a son were to 
rescue his father from the torture, or to undergo it in his 
stead. You can suppose the benefits returned by the son 
as great as you please, whereas the gift he received from 
his father was of one sort only, was easily performed, and 
was a pleasure to the giver ; that he must necessarily have 
given the same thing to many others, even to some to 
whom he knows not that he has given it, that he had a 
partner in doing so, and that he had in view the law, 
patriotism, the rewards bestowed upon fathers of families 
by the state, the maintenance of his house and family : every- 
thing rather than him to whom he was giving life. What? 
supposing that any one were to learn philosophy and teach 
it to his father, could it be any longer disputed that the 
son had given him something greater than he had received 
from him, having returned to his father a happy life, 
whereas he had received from him merely life ? 

XXXIV. “ But,” says our opponent, “ whatever you do, 
whatever you are able to give to your father, is part of his 
benefit bestowed u|)on you.” So it is the benefit of my 
teacher that I have become proficient in liberal studies ; 

G 



82 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. m. 


yet we j)ass on from those who taught them to us, at any 
rate from those who taught us the alphabet ; and although 
no one can learn anything without them, yet it does not 
follow that whatsoever success one subsequently obtains, 
(ine is still inferior to those teachers. There is a great 
difference between the beginning of a thing and its final 
development ; the beginning is not equal to the thing at 
its greatest, merely upon the ground that, without the 
lieginning, it could never have become so great. 

XXXV. It is now time for me to bring forth something, 
so to speak, from my own mint. So long as there is some- 
thing better than the benefit which a man bestows, he may 
) le outdone. A father gives life to his son ; there is some- 
thing better than life ; therefore a father may be outdone, 
1 K^cause there is something better than the benefit which 
he has l)estowed. Still further, he who has given any one 
his life, if he be more than once saved from peril of death 
]iy him, has received a greater benefit than he bestowed. 
Now, a father has given life to his son : if, therefore, he be 
more than once saved from peril by his son, he can receive a 
greater benefit than he gave. A benefit becomes greater 
io the receiver in jn-oportion to his need of it. Now he 
who is alive needs life more than he who has not been born, 
seeing that such a one can have no need at all ; consequently 
a father, if his life is saved by his son, receives a greater 
benefit tlian liis son received from him by being born. It 
is said, “The benefits conferred by fathers cannot be out- 
done by those returned by their sons.” Why ? “ Because 
Ihe son received life from his father, and had ho not re- 
ceived it, he could not have returned any benefits at all.” 
A father has this in common with all those who have given 
any men their lives ; it is impossible that these men could 
repay the debt, if they had not received their life. Then I 
suppose one cannot overpay one’s debt to a physician, for 
a physician gives lif« p -** well as a father ; or to a sailor 



CH. XXXVI.] 


ON BENEFITS, 


83 


wlio lias saved us wlicn shipwrecked? Yet the benefits 
besfxiwed by +hese and by all the others wlio give us life 
in whatever tashion, can be outdone : consequently those 
of our fathers can be outdone. If any one bestows upon 
me a benefit which requires the help of benefits from many 
other persoiis, whereas I give him what requires no one to 
help it out, I have given more than I have received ; now a 
father gave to his son a life which, without many accesso- 
ries to preserve it, would perish 5 whereas a son, if he gives 
life to his father, gives him a life which requires no assis- 
tance to make it lasting ; therefore the father who receives 
life from his son, receives a greater benefit than ho himself 
bestowed, upon his son, 

XXXVI. These considerations do not destroy the respect 
due to parents, or make their children behave worse to 
them, nay, better ; for virtue is naturally ambitious, and 
wishes to outstrip those who arc before it. Filial’ piety 
will be all the more eager, if, in returning a father’s bene- 
fits, it can hope to outdo them ; nor will this be against 
the will or the pleasure of the father, since in many con- 
tests it is to our advantage to be outdone. How does this 
contest become so desirable? How comes it to be such 
happinesa iX) parents that they should confess themselves 
outdone by the benefits bestowed by their children ? Unless 
we decide the matter thus, we give children an excuse, and 
make them less eager to repay their debt, whereas we ought 
'to sjuir them on, saying, “ Noble youths, give your attention 
to this! You are invited to contend in an honourable 
strife between parents and children, as to which party lias 
received more than it has given. Your fathers have not 
necessarily won the day because they arc first in the field : 
only take courage, as befits you, and do not give up 
the contest ; you will conquer if you wi«h to do so. In 
this honourable warfare you Avili have no lack of leaders 
who will encourage you to jierform deeds like their 



84 


ON BENEFITS, 


[bk. III. 


own, and bid you follow in their footsteps upon a path 
by which victory has often before now bepn won over 
parents. 

XXXVII. iEneas conquered his father in well doing, for 
he himself had been but a light and a safe burden for him 
Avlien he was a child, yet he bore his father, when heavy 
with age, through the midst of the enemy’s lines and the 
crash of the city which was falling around him, albeit the 
devout old man, who bore the sacred images and the house- 
hold gods in his liands, pressed him with more than liis own 
weight ; nevertheless (what cannot filial piety accomplish !) 
J^neas liore him safe through the blazing city, and placed 
him in safety, to be worshipped as one of the founders of 
the Roman Empire. Those Sicilian youths outdid their 
j>arents whom they bore away safe, when ^tna, roused 
to unusual fury, poured fire over cities and fields through- 
out a* great part of the island. It is believed that the fires 
parted, and that the flames retired on either side, so as to 
leave a passage for these youths to pass through, who 
certainly desei'ved. to perform their daring task in safety. 
Antigonus outdid his father when, after having conquered 
the enemy i ri a great battle, he transferred the fruits of it to 
liim, and handed over to him the empire of Cyprus. This is 
true kingship, to choose not to be a king when you might. 
Manlius conquered his father, imperious’ though he was, 
when, in spite of his having previously been banished for a 
time by his father on account of his dulness and stupidity 
as a boy, he ciime to an interview which he had demanded 
with the tribune of the pcojile, who had filed an action 
against his father. The triliune had granted him the inter- 
view, hoping that he would betray his hated father, and 
believed that he had earned the gratitude of the youth, 
having, among^st other matters, reproached old Manlius 

‘ Then; is an allusion to the surname of both the father and the son, 

Itnperiosus,” given them on account of their severity. 



CH. XXXVTII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


85 


with sending him into exile, treating it as a very serious 
accusation ; hut the youth, having caught him alone, drew 
a sword w^ich he had hidden in his robe, and said, 
“ Unless you swear to give up your suit against my father, 
I will run you through with this sword. It is in your 
power to decide how my father shall he freed from his 
prosecutor.” The tribune swore, and kept his oath; he 
related the reason of his abandonment of his action to an 
assembly at the Rostra. No other man was ever permitted 
to put down a tribune with impunity. 

XXXVIII. There are instances without number of men 
who have saved their parents from danger, have raised 
them from the lowest to the highest station, and, taking 
them from the nameless mass of the lower classes, have 
given them a name glorious throughout all ages. By no 
force of words, by no power of genius, can one rightly ex- 
press how desirable, how admirable, how never to be erased 
from human memory it is to be able to say, “ I obeyed my 
parents, I gave way to them, I was submissive to their autho- 
rity whether it was just, or unjust and harsh; the only point 
in which I resisted them was, not to be conquered by them 
in benefits.” Continue this struggle, I bog of you, and even 
though weary, yet re-form your ranks. Happy are they who 
conquer, happy they who are conquered. What can be more 
glorious than the youth who can say to himself — it would 
not be right to say it to another — “ I have conquered my 
•father with benefits ” ? Wliat is more fortunate than that 
old man who declares everywhere to everyone that he has 
been conquered in benefits by his son? Wlait, again, is 
more blissful than to be overcome in such a contest?” 



Book IV 


1 . 

O P all tlie matters wliicli we liave discussed, iPbiitius 
Liberalis, there is none more essential, or which, as 
Sallust says, ought to he stated with more care than that 
which is now before us : whether the bestowal of benefits 
and the return of gratitude for them are desii-able objects 
in theniselves. Some men are found who act honourably 
from coinmer(,‘ial motives, and who do not care for unre- 
warded virtue, though it can confer no glory if it l>rings 
any profit. What can be more base than for a man to 
consider what it costs him to be a good man, when virtue 
neither alluix^s by gain nor deters by loss, and is so far from 
bribing any one with hopes and promises, that on the other 
hand she bids them spend money upon herself, and often 
consists in voluntary gifts We must go to her, trampling 
wliat is merely useful under our feet : whithersoever she 
nia.y call us or send us we must go, without any regard for 
our private fortunes, sometimes without sparing even our 
o wn blood, nor must we ever refuse to obey any of her com- 
mands. “ Wliat shall 1 gain,” says my opponent, “ if I do 
this bravely and gratefully?” You will gain the doing 
of it — the deed itself is your gain. Nothing beyond this is 
])romis<^d . If any advantage chances to accrue to you, count 
it as something extra. The reward of honourable dealings 
lies in tliemselves. If honour is to be sought after for itself, 
since a benefit is honourable, it follows that l)ecause both of 



CH. II.] ON BENEFITS. 87 

these are of the same nature, their conditions must also he 
the same. 'NTmv it has frequently and satisfactorily heeu 
proved, that nonour ought to he sought after for itself alone. 

II. In this part of the subject we oppose the Epicureans, 
an effeminate and dreamy sect who philosophize in their 
own paradise, amongst whom virtue is the handmaid of 
pleasures, obeys them, is subject to them, and regards tlnnn 
as superior to itself. You say, “ there is no pleasure with- 
out virtue,” But wherefore is it superior to virtue ? Do 
you imagine that the matter in dispute between them is 
merely one of precedence? Nay, it is virtue itself and its 
powers which are in question. It cannot be virtue if it can 
follow ; the place of virtue is first, she ought to lead, to 
command, to stand in the highest rank; you bid her look 
for a cue to follow. “ What,” asks our opponent, “ does 
tliat matter to you? I also declare that happiness is im- 
possible without virtue. Without virtue I disapprove of 
and condemn the very pleasures which I pursue, and to 
which I have surrendered myself. The only matter in dis- 
pute is this, whether virtue l)e the cause of the highest good, 
or whether it be itself the highest good.” Do you suppose, 
though this be the only point in question, that it is a mere 
matter of precedence? It is a confusion and obvious 
blindness to 2>refer the last to the first. I am not angry 
at virtue being placed below pleasure, but at her being 
mixed up at all with pleasure, which she despises, whose 
■enemy she is, and from which she separates herself as far 
as possible, being more at home with labour and sorrow, 
which are manly troubles, than with your womanish good 
tilings. 

III. It was necessary to in sert this argument, my Liberalis, 
because it is the j)art of virtue to bestow those benefits 
which we are now discussing, and it is most disgraceful to 
bestow benefits for any other purpose than {hat they should 
be free gifts. If we give with the hope of receiving a return. 



we should give to the richest men, not to the most de- 
serving: whereas we prefer a virtuous poor man to au 
unmannerly rich one. That is not a benefit, which takes 
into consideration the fortune of the receiver. Moreover, 
if our only motive for benefiting others was our own 
ad vantage, those who could most easily distribute benefits, 
su(.‘h as rich and powerful men, or kings, and persons who 
do not stand in need of the help of others, ought never to 
do so at all; the gods would not bestow upon us the 
countless blessings which they pour upon us unceasingly by 
night and hy day, for their own nature suffices them in 
all respects, and renders them complete, safe, and beyond 
the reach of harm; they will, therefore, never bestow a 
benefit upon any one, if self and self interest be the only 
cause for the bestowal of benefits. To take thought, not 
wliere your benefit will be best bestowed, but where it 
may be most profitably placed at interest, from whence 
you will most easily get it back, is not bestowal of benefits, 
hut usury. Now the gods have nothing to do with usury ; 
it follows, therefore, that they cannot be liberal ; for if the 
only reason for giving is the advantage of the giver, since 
Grod cannot hope to receive any advantages from us, there 
is ]io cause why God should give aiiy thing. 

IV. I know what answer may he made to this. “ True ; 
therefore God does not bestow benefits, but, free from care 
arid unmindful of us, He turns away from our world and 
either does something else, or else does nothing, which 
Epicurus thought the greatest possible happiness, and He 
is not affected either hy benefits or by injuries.” The 
man who says this cannot surely hear the voices of wor- 
shippers, and of those who all around him are raising their 
hands to heaven and praying for the success both of their 
private affairs and those of the state; which certainly 
would not be tlie case, all men would not agree in this 
madness of appealing to deaf and helpless gods, unless we 



CH. V.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


89 


knew that their benefits are sometimes bestowed upon us 
unasked, sometimes in answer to our prayers, and that they 
give us both great and seasonable gifts, which shield us 
from tlie most terrible dangers. Wlio is there so poor, so 
uncared for, born to sorrow by so unkind a fate, as never 
to have felt the vast generosity of the Gods ? Look even 
at those who complain and are discontented with their lot ; 
you will find tliat they are not altogether without a share 
in the bounty of heaven, that there is no one upon whom 
something has not been shed from that most gracious 
fount, Is the gift which is bestowed upon all alike, at 
their birth, not enough ? However unequally the blessings 
of after life may be dealt out to us, did nature give us too 
little when she gave us lierself ? 

V. It is said, “ God does not bestow benefits.” Wlience, 
then, conies all that you possess, that you give or refuse to 
give, that you hoard or steal ? whence come these innu- 
merable delights of our eyes, our ears, and our minds? 
whence the plenty which provides us even with luxury — for it 
is not our bare necessities alone against which provision is 
made ; we are loved so much as actually to be pampered — 
whence so many trees bearing various fruits, so many whole- 
some herbs, so many different sorts of food distributed 
throughout the year, so that even the slothf ul ma v find sus- 
tenance in the chance jiroduce of the earth ? Then, too, 
whence come the living creatures of all kinds, some inhabit- 
ing the dry land, others the waters, others alighting from 
the sky, that every part of nature may pay us some tribute ; 
the rivers winch encircle our meadows with most beauteous 
bends, the others which afford a passage to merchant fleets 
as they flow on, wide and navigable, some of which in 
summer time are subject to extraordinary overflowings in 
order that lands lying parched under a. glowing sun may 
suddenly be watered by the rush of a miasummer torrent ? 

Wliat of the fountains of incdithial waters ? What of 



ON BENEFITS. 


90 


[be. IV. 


the bursting forth of warm waters upon the seashore itself ? 
Sliall I 

“ Tell of the seas roiinil Italy that flow, 

■\Vhicli laves her shore above, and which below } 

Or of her lakes, unrivalled Larius, thee, 

Ur thee, benaeus, roaring like a sea ? 


VI. If any one gave you a few acres, you would say that 
you ]jad received a benefit ; can you deny that the boundless 
extent of the earth is a benefit? If any one gave you 
money, and filled your chest, since you think that so im- 
portant, you would call that a benefit. Grod lias buried 
coimtless mines in the eartli, lias poured out from the earth 
countless rivers, rolling sands of gold ; He has concealed 
ill every place huge masses of silver, copper and iron, and 
lias bestowed upon you the means of discovering them, plac- 
ing U])on the surface of the earth signs of the treasures 
hidden below; and yet do you say that you have received no 
Ijenefit ? If a house were given you, bright with marble, 
its roof beautifully painted with colours and gilding, you 
would call it no small benefit. G-od has built for you a 
huge mansion tliat fears no fire or ruin, in which you see 
no flimsy veneers, thinner than tlie very saw with which 
they are cut, but vast blocks of most predous stone, all 
composed of those various and different substances whose 
paltriest fragments you admire so much ; ho has built a 
roof wliich glitters in one fasliion by day, and in ano- 
ther by night ; and yet do you say that you have received 
no benefit ? Wlien you so greatly prize what you possess, 
do you act the part of an ungrateful man, and think that 
there is no one to whom you are indebted for tlieni? 
Whence conies the breath which you draw ? the light by 
which you arrange and perform all the actions of your 
life ? i/lie blood, by whose circulation your vital warmth is 
maintained ? those meats which excite your palate by their 
delicate fiavour 'after your hunger is appeased? those pro- 



cn. VII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


91 


vocatives which ronse von when wearied with pleasure? 
that repose in which you are rotting and mouldering? Will 
you not, if you are grateful, say — 

“ ’Tis to SI god tluit this ropose I owe, 

Por him I worship, as a god helow. 

Oft OH his altar shall my {ivstliiigs bleed, 

See, by his bounty here with rustic reed 
I play the airs I love the livsdong dsiy. 

The while my oxen sound about me stray.* 

Tlie true God is he who has plat'ed, not a h'w oxen, hut all 
the herds on their jaistnres throtighout tlie world ; wlio 
furnishes food to the Hocks whsirever they wander; who 
has ordained the alternation of summer and winter pas- 
turage, and has taught us not merely to play u].)on a reed, 
and to reduce to some order a nistic and artless song, Imt 
who has invented so many arts and varieti<.?s of voice, so 
many notes to make music, some witli our own hreatli, 
some with instruments. Yon cannot call our inventions 
our own any more than yon call our growth our own, or 
the various hodily functions which correspond to each 
stage of our lives ; at one time conies tlie loss of child- 
hood’s teeth, at another, when our age is advancing and 
growing into rohuster manhood, puberty and tlie last 
wisdom-tooth marks the end of our youth. We have iui- 
pl anted in us the seeds of all ages, of all arts, and God our 
master l^rings forth our iniellects from obscurity. 

VII. “ Nature,” says my opponent, “ gives me all this.” 
Do you not perceive when you say this that you merely 
speak of God under another name? for what is nature 
hut God and divine reason, which pervades the universe 
and all its parts? You may address the author of our 
world by as many different titles as you please ; you may 
rightly call him Jupiter, Best and Greatest, and the Thun- 
derer, or the Stayer, so called, not because, as the histo- 
rians toll us, he stayed the fliglit of the Koman army in 



92 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. IV. 


answer to the prayer of Eomulus, but because all tilings 
continue in their stay through his goodness. If you were to 
call this same personage Fate, you would not he ; for since 
fate is nothing more than a connected chain of causes, he 
is the first cause of all, upon which all the rest depend. 
You will also be right in applying to him any names that 
you please which express supernatural strength and power : 
he may have as many titles as he has attributes. 

YIII, Our school regards him as Father Liber, and Her- 
cules, and Mercurius : he is Father Liber because he is the 
parent of all, who first discovered the power of seed, and 
our being led by pleasure to plant it; he is Hercules, 
because his might is unconquered, and when it is wearied 
after completing its labours, will retire into fire ; he is Mer- 
curius, because in him is reasoning, and numbers, and 
system, and knowledge. Whither-soever you turn yourself 
you will see him meeting you : nothing is void of him, he 
himself fills his own work. Therefore, most ungrateful of 
mortals, it is in vain that you declare yourself indebted, 
not to God, but to nature, because there can be no God 
without nature, nor any nature without God; they are 
both the same thing, differing only in their functions. If 
you were to say that you owe to Annaeus or to Lucius what 
you received from Seneca, you would not change your creditor, 
but only his name, because he remains the same man whe- 
ther you use his first, second, or third name. So whether 
you speak of nature, fate, or fortune, these are all names of 
the same God, using his power in different ways. So likewise 
justice, honesty, discretion, courage, frugality, are all the 
good qualities of one and the same mind ; if you are ]>leased 
with any one of these, you are pleased with that mind. 

IX. However, not to drift aside into a distinct con- 
troversy, God bestows upon us very many and very great 
benefits without ‘hope of receiving any return, since he 
does not require any offering from us, and we are not 



ON BENErrrs. 


93 


cn, X.] 

capable of bestowing anything upon him: wherefore, a 
benefit is desirable in itself. In it the advantage of the 
receiver is all that is taken into consideration : we study 
this without regarding our own interests. “ Yet,” argues 
our opponent, “ you say that we ought to choose with care 
the persons upon whom we bestow benefits, because neither 
do husbandmen sow seed in the sand : now if this be true, 
we follow our own interest in bestowing benefits, just as 
much as in ploughing and sowing: for sowing is not 
desirable in itself. Besides this you inquire where and 
how you ought to bestow a benefit, which would not need 
to be done if the bestowal of a benefit was desirable in 
itself : because in whatever place and whatever manner it 
might bo bestowed, it still would be a benefit.” We seek 
to do honourable acts, solely because they are honourable ; 
yet even though we need think of nothing else, we consider 
to whom we shall do them, and when, and how ; for in these 
points the act has its being. In like maimer, when I 
choose upon whom I shall bestow a benefit, and when, I 
aim at making it a benefit ; because if it were bestowed 
upon a base jierson, it could neither be a benefit nor an 
honourable action. 

X. To restore what has been entrusted to one is de- 
sirable in itself; yet I shall not always restore it, nor 
shall I do so in any place or at any time you please. 
Sometimes it makes no difibrence whether I deny that I 
have received it, or return it openly. I shall consider the 
interests of the person to whom I am to return it, and shall 
deny that I have received a deposit which would injure him 
if returned. I shall act in the same manner in bestowing a 
benefit : I shall consider when to give it, to whom, ip, wliat 
manner, and on what grounds. Nothing ought to be done 
without a reason : a benefit is not truly so. if it be bestowed 
without a reason, since reason accompanies all lionourabh; 
action. How often do we hear men reproaching themselves 



94 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. IV. 


for some fhoughtless gift, and saying, “ I liad rather have 
thrown it away than have given it to him ! ” What is 
thoughtlessly given away is lost in the most tnscreditable 
manner, and it is much worse to have bestowed a benefit 
badly than to have received no return for it; that we 
receive no return is the fault of another ; that we did not 
choose upon whom we should ])estow it, is our own. In 
choosing a fit person, I shall not, as you expect, pay the 
least attention to whether I am likely to get any return 
from him, for I choose one who will be grateful, not one 
who will return my goodness, and it often happens that 
the man who makes no return is grateful, while he who 
returns a benefit is ungrateful for it. I value men by 
their hearts alone, and, therefore, I shall pass over a rich 
man if he he unworthy, and give to a good man though he 
be poor ; for he will he grateful however destitute he may 
1)6, since whatever he may lose, his heart will still be 
left him. 

XI. I do not fish for gain, for pleasure, or for credit, by 
bestowing benefits ; satisfied in doing so with pleasing one 
man alone, I shall give in order to do my duty. Duty, 
however, leaves one some choice ; do you ask me, how I am 
to choose? I shall choose an honest, plain, man, with a good 
memory, and grateful for kindness ; one who keeps his 
hands olf other men’s goods, yet does not greedily hold to 
his own, and who is kind to others ; when I have chosen 
such a man, I shall have acled to my mind, although 
fortune may have bestowed upon him no means of return- 
ing my kindness. If my own advantage and mean calcu- 
lation made me liberal, if I did no one any service except 
ill order that lie might in turn do a service to me, I uld 
never bestow a benefit upon one wlio was setting out for 
distant and foreign countries, never to return ; I should not 
bestow a benefit upon one who was so ill as to ho past hope 
of recovery, nor should I do so when I myself was failing. 



CH. XII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


95 


because I should not live long enough to receive any return. 
Yet, that yon may know that to do good is desirable in 
itself, we afford help to strangers who put into our harbour 
only to leave it straightway ; we give a ship and fit it out 
for a shipwrecked stranger to sail ])ack in to his own 
country. He leaves us hardly knowing who it was who 
saved him, and, as he will never return to our presence, he 
hands over his debt of gratitude to the gods, and beseeches 
them to fulfil it for him : in the meanwhile we rejoi(;e in 
the barren knowledge that we have done a good action. 
What ? when we stand upon the extreme verge of life, and 
make our wills, do we not assign to others benefits from 
which we ourselves shall receive no advantage? How much 
time we waste, how long we consider in secret how much 
property we ai'e to leave, and to whom! What then? 
does it make any difference to us to whom we leave our 
property, seeing that we cannot expect any return from 
any one ? Yet we never give anything with more care, we 
never take such pains in deciding upon our verdict, as when, 
without any views of personal advantage, wo think only of 
what is honourable, for we are bad judges of our duty as 
long as our view of it is distorted by hojie and fear, and 
that most indolent of vices, pleasure: but when death has 
shut off: all tliese, and brougl.it us as incorrupt judges to 
pronounce sentence, we seek for the most worthy men to 
leave our property to, and we never take more scrupulous 
care than in deciding what is to be done with what does 
not concern us. Yet, by Hercules, then there steals over 
us a great satisfaction as we think, “I shall make this 
man richer, and by bestowing wealth upon that man I 
shall add lustre to his high position.” Indeed, if we never 
give without expecting some return, we must all die 
without making our wills. 

XII. It may be said, “ You define a oenefit as a loan 
which cannot be repaid : noAv a loan is not a desirable 



ON BENEFITS. 


[BK, IV. 


ye 

tiling in itself.” Wlien we speak of a loan, we make use 
of a figure, or comparison, just as we speak of law as 
tlie standard of right and wrong, although* a standard 
is not a thing to be desired for its own sake. I have 
adopted this phrase in order to illustrate my subject: 
when I speak of a loan, I must be understood to mean 
something resembling a loan. Do you wish to know how 
it differs from one ? I add the words “ which cannot be 
repaid,” whereas every loan both can and ought to be 
repaid. It is so far from being right to bestow a benefit 
for one’s own advantage, that often, as I have explained, 
it is one’s duty to bestow it when it involves one’s own loss 
and risk : for instance, if I assist a man when beset by 
robbers, so that he gets away from them safely, or help 
some victim of power, and bring upon myself the party 
spite of a body of infiuential men, very probably incurring 
myself the same disgrace from which I saved him, although 
I might have taken the other side, and looked on with safety 
at struggles with which I have nothing to do : if I were to 
give bail for one who has been condemned, and when my 
friend’s goods were advertised for sale I were to give a. bond 
to the effect that I would make restitution to the creditors, 
if, in order to save a proscribed person I myself run the risk 
of being proscribed. No one, when about to buy a villa at 
Tusculum or Tibur, for a summer retreat, because of the 
health of the locality, considers how many years’ purchase 
he gives for it ; this must be looked to by the man who makes 
a profit by it. The same is true with benefits ; when you 
ask what retuni I get for them, I answer, the consciousness 
of a good action, “ What return does one get for benefits ? ” 
Pray tell me what return one gets for righteousness, in- 
nocence, magnanimity, chastity, temperance ? If you wish 
for anything beyond these virtues, you do not wish for the 
virtues themselvfts. For what does the order of the uni- 
verse bring round the seasons? for what does the sun 



CH. Sill,] 


ON BENEFITS. 


97 


make the day now longer and now shorter ? all these things 
are benefits, for they take place for onr good. As it is 
the duty of the universe to maintain the round of the 
seasons, as it is the duty of the sun to vary the points of 
his rising and setting, and to do all these things by which 
we profit, without any reward, so is it the duty of man, 
amongst other things, to bestow benefits. Wherefore then 
does he give ? He gives for fear that he should not give, 
lest ho might lose an opportunity of doing a good action. 

XIII. You Epicureans take j>lea8ure in making a study 
of dull torpidity, in seeking for a repose which differs little 
from sound sleep, in lurking beneath the thickest shade, in 
amusing with the feeblest possible trains of thought that 
sluggish condition of your languid minds which you term 
tranquil contemplation, and in stuffing with food and 
drink, in the recesses of your gardens, your bodies which are 
pallid with want of exercise; we Stoics, on the other 
hand, take pleasure in bestowing benefits, even though 
they cost us labour, provided that they lighten the labours 
of others ; though they lead us into danger, provided that 
they save otliers, though they straiten our means, if they 
alleviate the poverty and distresses of others. Wliat diffe- 
rence does it make to me whether I receive benefits or not ? 
even if I receive them, it is still my duty to bestow them. A 
benefit has in view the advantage of him upon whom we 
bestow it, not our own; otherwise we merely bestow it 
•upon ourselves, Many things, therefore, which are of the 
greatest possible use to others lose all claim to gratitude 
by being paid for. Merchants are of use to cities, pliy- 
sicians to invalids, dealers to slaves ; yet all these have 
no claim to the gratitude of those whom they benefit, 
because they seek their own advantage through that of 
others. That which is beshwed with a vi^w to profit is 
not a benefit. “ I will give this in order that I may get a 
return for it ” is the language of a broker. 



98 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. IV. 


XIV. I should not call a woman modest, if she rebuffed 
her lover in order to increase his passion, or because she 
feared the law or her husband ; as Ovid says ; 

“ She that denies, because she does not dare 

To yield, in sjurit grants her lover’s prayer.” 

Indeed, the woman who owes her chastity, not to her own 
virtue, but to fear, may rightly be classed as a sinner. In 
tlie same manner, he who merely gave in order that he 
might receive, cannot be said to have given. Pray, do we 
oestow benefits upon animals when we feed them for our 
use or for our table? do we bestow benefits upon trees 
when we tend them that they may not suffer from drought 
or from hardness of ground ? No one is moved by righteous- 
ness and goodness of heart to cultivate an estate, or to do 
any act in which the reward is something apart from the 
act itself ; but he is moved to bestow benefits, not by low 
and grasping motives, but by a kind and generous mind, 
which even after it has given is willing to give again, to 
renew its former bounties by fresh ones, whicih tliink's only 
of how much good it can do the man to whom it gives ; 
w]icrea.s to do any one a service because it is our interest 
to do so is a mean action, which deserves no praise, no 
credit. What grandeur is there in loving oneself, sparing 
oneself, gaining profit for oneself? The true love of 
giving calls us away from all this, forcibly leads us to 
put up with loss, and foregoes its own interest, deriving its. 
greatest pleasure from the mere act of doing good. 

XV. Can we doubt that the converse of a benefit is an 
injury? As the infliction of injuries is a thing to be 
avoided, so is the bestowal of benefits to be desired for its 
own sake. In the former, the disgrace of crime outweighs 
all the advantages which incite us to commit it ; while wo 
are urged to the latter course by the appearance of honour, 
in itself a powerful incentive to action, which attends it- 



CH. XVL] 


ON BENEFITS. 


99 


I should not lie if I were to affirm that every one takes 
pleasure in t%e benefits which he has bestowed, that every- 
one loves best to see the man whom he lias most largely 
benefited. Who does not thinks that to have bestowed one 
benefit is a reason for bestowing a second ? and would this 
be so, if the act of giving did not itself give us pleasure ? 
How often you may hear a man say, “ I cannot bear to desert 
one whose life I have preserved, whom I have saved from 
danger. True, he asks me to plead his cause against men 
of great influence. I do not wish to do so, yet what am I 
to do ? I have already helped him once, nay twice.” Do 
you not perceive how very powerful this instinct must be, 
if it leads us to bestow benefits first because it is right to 
do so, and afterwards because we have already bestowed 
somewhat ? Though at the outset a man may have had no 
claim upon, us, we yet continue to give to him because we 
have already given to him. So untrue is it that we are 
urged to bestow benefits by our own interest, that even 
when our benefits prove failures we continue to nurse them 
and encourage them out of sheer love of benefiting, which 
has a natural weakness even for what has been ill-bestowed, 
like that whicli we feel for our vicious children. 

XVI. These same adversaries of ours admit that they 
are grateful, yet not because it is honourable, but bocauso it 
is profitable to be so. Tliis can be proved to bo untrue all 
the more easily, because it can be established by the same 
arguments by which we have established that to bestow a 
benefit is desirable for its own sake. All our arguments 
start from this settled point, that honour is pursued for 
no reason except because it is honour. Now, wlio will 
venture to raise the question whether it be honourable to 
be grateful? who does not loathe the ungrateful man, useless 
as he is even to himself ? How do you feel when any one 
is spoken of as being ungrateful for great benefits conferred 
upon him by a friend ? Is it as though he had done some- 



100 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. IV, 


tiling .base, or bad merely neglected to do something useful 
and liliely to be^profitable to himself? I imagine that you 
think him a had man, and one who deserves punishment, 
not one who needs a guardian ; and this would not be the 
(;ase, unless gratitude were desirable in itself and honour- 
able. Other qualities, it may be, manifest their importance 
less clearly, and require an explanation to prove whether 
they be honourable or no ; this is openly proved to be so in 
the sight of all, and is too beautiful for anything to obscure 
or dim its glory. Wliat is more praiseworthy, upon what 
are all men more universally agreed, than to return grati- 
tude for good offices ? 

XVII. Pray tell me, what is it that urges us to do so? Is 
it profit? Why, unless a man despises profit, he is not 
grateful. Is it ambition? why, what is there to boast of 
in having paid what you owe? Is it fear? The ungrateful 
man feels none, for against this one crime we have provided 
no law, as though nature had taken sufficient precautions 
against it. Just as there is no law which bids parents 
love and indulge their children, seeing that it is superfluous 
to force us into the j^ath which wo naturally take, just as 
no one needs to be urged to love himself, since self-love 
begins to act upon liim as soon as he is born, so there is no 
law bidding us to seek that which is lionourablc in itself ; for 
such things please us by their very nature, and so attractive 
is virtue that the disposition even of bad men leads them 
to approve of good rather than of evil. Who is there who 
does not wish to appear beneficent, who does not even 
when steeped in crime and wrong-doing strive after the 
ap])earanoe of goodness, does not put some show of justice 
upon even his most intemperate acts, and endeavour to 
Bcem to have conferred a benefit even upon those whom 
he has injured? ^Consequently, men allow themselves to he 
thanked by those whom they have ruined, and pretend 
to be good and generous, because they cannot prove them- 



CH. XVIII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


101 


selves so ; and this they never would do were it,h^t that a, 
love of honour for its own sake forces them n. 

reputation quite at variance with their real characTOL' an^^ 
to conceal their baseness, a quality whose fruits we coveft 
though wo regard it itself with dislike and shame. No 
one has ever so far rebelled against the laws of nature 
and put off human feeling as to act basely for mere 
amusement. Ask any of those who live by robbery 
whether he would not rather obtain what he stc'als and 
plunders by honest means ; the man whose trade is high- 
way robbery and the murder of travellers would rather find 
his booty than talie it by force ; you will find no one who 
would not prefer to enjoy the fruits of wickedness without 
acting wickedly. Nature bestows upon us all this immense 
advantage, that the light of virtue shines into the minds of 
all alike ; even those who do not follow licr, behold her. 

XVIII. A proof that gratitude is desiralfie for itseff lies 
in the fact that ingratitude is to be avoided for itself, 
because no vice more powerfully rends asunder aiul, de- 
stroys the union of the human race. To what do we 
trust for safety, if not in mutual good offices one to 
another ? It is by the ml.ercliange of benefits alone tlnit 
we gain some measure of ju'otection for our lives, and of 
safety against sudden disasters. Taken singly, what should 
we be ? a prey and quarry for wild beasts, a luscious and 
easy banquet ; for while all other animals have suilieient 
strength to protect themselves, and those which are 1x)rn 
to a wandering solitary life are anned, man is covered by a 
soft skin, has no powerful teetli or claws with which to ter- 
rify other creatuKis, but weak and naked by himself is 
made strong by union. 

God has bestowed upon him two gifts, reason and union, 
which raise him from weakness to the highest power ; an<l 
so he, who if taken alone would be inferior lo every other 
creature, possesses supreme dominion. Union 1ms given 



102 ON BENEFITS. [bK. IV. 

liini sovereignty over all animals ; union lias enabled a 
being born upon the earth to assume power over a foreign 
element, and bids him be lord of the sea also f it is union 
which lias checked the inroads of disease, provided sup- 
ports for our old age, and given us relief from pain ; it is 
union which makes us strong, and to which we look for 
protection against the caprices of fortune. Take away 
union, and you will rend asunder the association by which 
the human race preserves its existence ; yet you will take 
it away if you succeed in proving that ingratitude is not 
to be avoided for itself, but because sometliing is to be 
feared for it; for how many are there who can with 
safety be ungrateful? In fine, I call every man un- 
grateful who is merely made grateful by fear. 

XIX. No sane man fears the gods ; for it is madness to 
fear what is beneficial, and no man loves those wliom he 
fears. You, Epicurus, ended by making God unarmed; 
you stripped him of all weapons, of all power, and, lest 
anyone should fear him, you banished him out of the 
world. There is no r(?ason why you should fear this being, 
out off as he is, and separated from the sight and touch of 
mortals by a vast and impassable wall ; he has no power 
either of rewarding or of injuring us ; he dwells alone half- 
way between our heaven and that of another world, without 
tlie society either of animals, of men, or of matter, avoid- 
ing the crash of worlds as they fall in ruins above and 
around him, hut neither hearing our prayers nor interested 
in us. Yet you wish to seem to worship this being just as 
a father, with a mind, I suppose, full of gratitude ; or, if 
you do not wish to seem grateful, why should you wor- 
ship him, since you have received no benefit from him, but 
have been put together entirely at random and l)y chance 
by those atoms and mites of yours ? “ I worship him,” you 
answer, “ beeausfe of his glorious majesty and his unique 
nature.” Granting that you do this, you clearly do it with- 



CH. XX.] 


OSr BENEFITS. 


103 


out the attraction of any reward, or any hope ; there is 
therefore something which is desirable for itself, whose 
own worth Attracts you, that is, honour. Now what is 
more honourable than gratitude ? the means of practising 
this virtue are as extensive as life itself. 

XX. “Yet,” argues he, “ there is also a certain amount 
of profit inherent in this virtue.” In what virtue is ther(3 
not? But that which we speak of as desirable for itself is 
such, that although it may possess some attendant advan- 
tages, yet it would be desirable even if stripped of all these. 
It is profitable to be grateful ; yet I will be grateful even 
though it harm me. What is tlie aim of the grateful 
man? is it that his gratitude may win for him more 
friends and more benefits? Wliat then? If a man is 
lifiely to meet with affronts by showing his gratitude, if 
he knows that far from gaining anything by it, he must lose 
much even of what he has already acquired, will he not 
cheerfully act to his own disadvantage ? That man is un- 
grateful who, in returning a kindness, looks forward to a 
second gift — who hopes while he repays. I call him un- 
grateful who sits at the bedside of a sick man because he is 
about to make a will, when he is at leisure to think of inheri- 
tances and legacies. Though he may do everything which 
a good and dutiful friend ought to do, yet, if any hope of 
gain be floating in his mind, he is a mere legacy -hunter, 
and is angling for an inheritance. Like the birds which 
feed upon carcases, which come close to animals weakened 
by disease, and watch till they fall, so these men are 
attracted by death and hover around a corpse. 

XXI. A grateful mind is attracted only by a sense 
of the beauty of its purpose. Do you wish to know this 
to be so, and that it is not bribed by ideas of profit? 
There are two classes of grateful men : a man is called 
grateful who has made some return for ^liat he received ; 
this man may very possibly display himself in this 



104 Om BENEFITS. [bK. IV 

cliaracter, he has something to boast of, to refer to. Wo 
also call a man grateful who receives a benefit with good- 
will, and owes it to his benefactor with goodwill ; yet this 
man’s gratitude lies concealed within his own mind. What 
profit can accrue to him from this latent feeling ? yet this 
man, even though he is not able to do anything more than 
this, is grateful ; he loves his benefactor, he feels his debt 
to him, he longs to repay his kindness ; whatever else you 
may find wanting, there is nothing wanting in the man. 
He is like a workman who has not the tools necessary for 
the practice of his craft, or like a trained singer whose 
voice camiot be heard through the noise of those who in- 
terrupt him. I wish to repay a kindness : after this there 
still remains something for me to do, not in order that I 
may become grateful, but that I may discharge my debt ; 
for, in many eases, he who returns a kindness is ungrate- 
ful for it, and he who does not return it is grateful. Like 
all other virtues, the whole value of gratitude lies in the 
spirit in which it is done ; so, if this man’s purpose be loyal, 
any shortcomings on his part are duo not to himself, but to 
fortune. A man who is silent may, nevertheless, be eloquent ; 
his hands may be folded or even bound, and he may yet be 
strong ; just as a pilot is a pilot even when upon dry land, 
because his knowledge is complete, and there is nothing 
wanting to it, though there may be obstacles which prevent 
his making use of it. In the same way, a man is grateful 
who only wishes to be so, and who has no one but himself 
who can bear witness to his frame of mind. I will go even 
further than this : a man sometimes is grateful when he 
appears to be ungrateful, when ill-judging report has de- 
clared him to be so. Such a man can look to nothing but 
his own conscience, which can please him even when over- 
whelmed by calumny, which contradicts the mob and 
common rumout, relies only upon itself, and though it 
beholds a vast crowd of the other way of thinking opposed 



CH. XXII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


105 


to it, does not count heads, but wins by its own vote alone. 
Should it spfi its own good faith meet witli the punishment 
due to treacnery, it will not descend from its pedestal, 
and will remain superior to its punishment. “ I have,” 
it says, “ what I wished, what I strove for. I do not regret 
it, nor shall I do so; nor shall fortune, however unjust she 
may be, ever hear me say, ‘ What did I want ? Wliat now 
is the use of having meant well ? ’ ” A good conscience is 
of value on the rack, or in the fire ; though fire be a])plied 
to each of our limbs, gradually encircle our living bodies, 
and burst our heart, yet if our heart be filled with a good 
conscience, it will rejoice in the fire which will make its 
good faith shine before the world. 

XXII. Now let that question also which has been already 
stated be again brought forward ; Why is it that we should 
wish to be grateful when we are dying, that we should care- 
fully weigh the various services rendered us by different indi- 
viduals, and carefully review our whole life, that we may 
not seem to have forgotten any kindness? Nothing then 
remains for us to hope for ; yet when on the very threshold, 
we wish to depart from human life as full of gratitude as 
possible. There is in truth an immense reward for this tiling 
merely in doing it, and what is honourable has great power 
to attract men’s minds, which are overwlielmed by its beauty 
and carried off their balance, enchanted by its brilliancy 
and splendour. “Yet,” argues our adversary, “from it 
many advantages take their rise, and good men obtain a 
safer life and love, and the good opinion of the better class, 
while their days are spent in greater security when accom- 
panied by innocence and gratitude.” 

Indeed, nature would have been most unjust had she 
rendered this great blessing miserable, uncertain, and fruit- 
less. But consider this point, whether you would make 
your way to that virtue, to which it fs generally safe 
and easy to attain, even though the path lay over rocks 



106 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. it. 


and precipices, and were beset with fierce beasts and veno- 
mons serpents. A virtue is none the less to be desired 
for its own sake, because it has some adventitious profit 
connected with it : indeed, in most cases the noblest virtues 
are accompanied by many extraneous advantages, but it 
is the virtues that lead the way, and these merely follow 
in their train. 

XXin. Can we doubt that the climate of this abode of 
the human race is regulated by the motion of the sun and 
moon in their orbits ? that our bodies are sustained, the 
hard earth loosened, excessive moisture reduced, and the 
surly bonds of winter broken by the heat of the one, and 
that crops are brought to ripeness by the effectual all- 
pervading warmth of the other ? that the fertility of the 
human race corresponds to the courses of the moon ? that 
the sun by its revolution inarks out the year, and that the 
moon, moving in a smaller orbit, marks out the months ? 
Yet, setting aside all this, would not the sun be a sight 
worthy to be contemplated and worshipped, if he did no 
more than rise and set? would not the moon be worth 
looking at, even if it passed uselessly through the heavens ? 
Whose attention is not arrested by the universe itself, 
when by night it pours forth its fires and glitters with 
innumerable stars ? Who, while he admires them, thinks 
of their being of use to him ? Look at that great company 
gliding over our heads, how they conceal their swift motion 
under the semblance of a fixed and immovable work. 
How much takes place in that night which you make use 
of merely to mark and count your days ! What a mass of 
events is being prepared in that silence 1 What a chain of 
destiny their unerring path is forming ! Those which you 
imagine to be merely strewn about for ornament are really 
one and all at work. Nor is there any ground for your 
belief that only seven stars revolve, and that the rest re- 
main still : we understand the orbits of a few, but count- 



CH, XXIV.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


107 


less divinities, further removed from our sight, come and 
go ; while the greater part of those whom our sight reaches 
move in a mysterious manner and by an unknown path, 

XXIV. "What then? would you not he captivated by 
the sight of such a stupendous work, even though it did 
not cover you, protect you, cherish you, bring you into 
existence and penetrate you with its spirit ? Though these 
heavenly bodies are of the very first importance to us, and 
are, indeed, essential to our life, yet we can think of no- 
thing but their glorious majesty, and similtwly all virtue, 
especially that of gratitude, though it confers great advan- 
tages upon us, does not wish to be loved for that reason ; it 
has something more in it than this, and he who merely 
reckons it among useful things does not perfectly compre- 
hend it. A man, you say, is grateful because it is to his ad- 
vantage to be so. If this be the case, then his advantage will 
be the measure of his gratitude. Virtue will not admit a 
covetous lover ; men must approach her with oi>en purse. 
The ungrateful man thinks, “ I did wish to be grateful, but 
I fear the expense and danger and insults to which I should 
expose myself: I will rather consult my own interest.’’ 
Men cannot be rendered grateful and ungrateful by the 
same line of reasoning: their actions are as distinct as 
their purposes. The one is ungrateful, although it is wrong, 
because it is his interest ; the other is grateful, although 
it is not his interest, because it is right. 

XXV. It is our aim to live in harmony with the scheme 
of the universe, and to follow the example of the gods. 
Yet in all their acts the gods have no object in view other 
than the act itself, unless you suppose that they obtain a 
reward for their work in the smoke of burnt sacrifices and 
the scent of incense. See what great things they do every 
day, how much they divide amongst us, with how great 
crops they fill the earth, how they mo^e the seas with 
convenient winds to carry ns to all shores, how by the fall 



108 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. rv. 

of sudden showers they soften the ground, renew the dried- 
up springs of fountains, and call them into new life hy 
unseen supplies of water. All this they do without reward, 
without any advantage accruing to themselves. Let our 
line of conduct, if it would not depart from its model, pre- 
serve this direction, and let us not act honourably because 
we are hired to do so. We ought to feel ashamed that any 
benefit should have a price : we pay nothing fur the gods. 

XXVI. ‘‘If,” our adversary may say, “you wish to 
imitate the gods, then bestow benefits upon the imgrateful 
as well as the grateful ; for the sun rises upon tlie wicked 
as well as the good, the seas are open even to pirates.” By 
this question he really asks whether a good man would 
bestow a benefit upon an ungrateful person, knowing him 
to be ungrateful. Allow me here to introduce a short 
explanation, that we may not be taken in by a deceitful 
question. Understand that according to the system of 
the Stoics there are two classes of ungrateful persons. 
One man is ungrateful because he is a fool ; a fool is a 
bad, man ; a man who is bad possesses every vice : there- 
fore he is ungrateful. In the same way we speak of all 
bad men as dissolute, avaricious, luxurious, and spiteful, 
not because each man has all these vices in any great or 
remarkable degree, but because he might have them ; they 
are in him, even though they be not seen. The second 
form of ungrateful person is he who is commonly meant 
by the term, one who is inclined by nature to this vice. 
In the case of him who has the vice of ingratitude just as 
he has every other, a wise man will bestow a benefit, 
because if he sets aside all such men there will be no one 
left for him to bestow it on. As for the ungrateful man 
who habitually misapplies benefits and acts so by choice, 
he will no more bestow a benefit upon him than he would 
lend money to a siiendthrift, or place a deposit in the 
hands of one who had already often refused to many per- 



CH. XXYII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


109 


sons to giTe up the property with which they had entrusted 
him. 

XXVII. We call some men timid because they are fools : 
in this they are Hke the bad men who are steeped in all 
vices without distinction. Strictly speaking, wo call those 
persons timid who are alarmed even at unmeaning noises. 
A fool 2)ossesses all vices, but he is not equally inclined by 
nature to aU ; one is prone to avarice, another to luxury, and 
another to insolence. Those persons, therefore, are mistaken, 
who ask the Stoics, “ What do you say, then ? is Acliilles 
timid ? Aristides, who received a name for justice, is ho 
unjust ? Fabius, who ^ by delays retrieved tlio day,’ is he 
rasli? Docs Decius fear death? Is Mucins a traitor? 
Camillus a betrayer? ” We do not mean that all vices are 
inherent in all men in the same way in which some 
especial ones are noticeable in certain men, but we declare 
that the bad man and the fool possess all vices ; we do not 
even acquit them of fear when they are rash, or of avarice 
when they ai’O extravagant. Just as a man has all his 
senses, yet all men have not on that account as keen a 
sight as Lyncous, so a man that is a fool has not all vices 
in so active and vigorous a form as some persons have 
some of them, yet ho has them all. Ail vices exist in all of 
them, yet all are not prominent in each individual. One 
man is naturally prone to avarice, another is the slave of 
wine, a third of lust ; or, if not yet enslaved by these pas- 
sions, he is so fashioned by nature that this is the direction 
in which his character would probably lead him. Therefore, 
to return to my original proposition, every bad man is un- 
grateful, because he has the seeds of every villainy in him ; 
but he alone is rightly so called who is naturally inclined 
to this vice. Upon such a person as this, therefore, I shall 
not bestow a benefit. One who betrothed his daughter to 
an ill-tempered man from whom many women had sought 
a divorce, would bo held to have neglected her interests ; 



110 ON BENEFITS. [bk. IV. 

a man would be thought a bad father if he entrusted the 
care of his patrimony to one who had lost his own family 
estate, and it would be the act of a madman lo maice a will 
naming as the guardian of one’s son a man who had already 
defrauded other wards. So will that man be said to bestow 
benefits as badly as possible, who chooses ungrateful per- 
sons, ill whose hands they will perish. 

XXVin. “ The gods," it may be said, “ bestow much, 
even upon the ungrateful." But what they bestow they 
had prepared for the good, and the bad have their share 
as well, because they cannot be separated. It is better 
to benefit the bad as well, for tlie sake of benefiting the 
good, than to stint the good for fear of benefiting the bad. 
Therefore the gods have created all that you speak of, the 
day, the sun, the alternations of winter and summer, the 
transitions through spring and autumn from one extreme 
to the other, showers, drinking fountains, and regularly 
Ijlowing winds for the use of all alike ; they could not 
except individuals from the enjoyment of them. A king 
bestows honours upon those who deserve them, but he gives 
largesse to the undeserving as well. The thief, the Ttearer 
of false witness, and the adulterer, alike receive tlie public 
grant of com, and all are placed on the register without any 
examination as to character ; good and bad men share alike 
in all the otlier privileges which a man receives, because he 
is a citizen, not because he is a good man. God likewise has 
bestowed certain gifts upon the entire human race, from 
which no one is shut out. Indeed, it could not be arranged 
that the wind which was fair for good men should be foul 
for bad ones, while it is for the good of all men that the seas 
should be open for trallic and tlie kingdom of mankind be 
enlarged ; nor could any law be appointed for the showers, 
so that they should not fall upon the fields of wicked and 
evil men. Some things are given to all alike : cities are 
founded for good and bad men alike; works of genius 



CH. XXIS,] 


0» BENEFIT?. 


Ill 


reach, by publication, even unworthy men ; medicine points 
out the mean^ of health even to the wicked ; no one has 
checked the making up of wholesome remedies for fear 
that the undeserving should be healed. You must seek 
for examination and preference of individuals in such 
things as are bestowed separately upon those who are 
thought to deserve them ; not in these, which admit the 
mob to share them without distimjtion. There is a great 
difference between not shutting a man out and choosing 
him. Even a thief receives justice ; even murderers enjoy 
the blessings of peace; even those who have plundered 
others can recover their own property; assassins and 
private bravoes are defended against the common enemy by 
the city wall ; the laws protect even those who have sinned 
most deeply against them. There are some things wliich 
no man could obtain unless they were given to all ; you 
need not, therefore, cavil about those matters in which 
all mankind is invited to share. As for things which men 
receive or not at my discretion, I shall not bestow them 
upon one whom I know to be ungrateful. 

XXIX, “Shall we, then.” argues ho, “not give our 
advice to an ungrateful man when he is at a loss, or 
refuse him a drink of water when he is thirsty, or not show 
him the path when he has lost his way ? or would you do 
him these services and yet not givo him anything ? '' Here I 
will draw a distinction, or at any rate endeavour to do so. 
A benefit is a useful service, yet all useful service is not a 
benefit; for some are so trilling as not to claim the title of 
benefits. To produce a benefit two conditions must concur. 
First, the im})ortance of the thing given ; for some things 
fall short of the dignity of a benefit. YVlio ever called a 
hunch of bread a benefit, or a farthing dole tossed to 
a beggar, or the means of lighting a fire ? yet sometimes 
these are of more value than the most costly benefits ; still 
their cheapness detracts from their value even when, by the 



112 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. IV. 


exigency of time, they are rendered essential. The next con- 
dition, which is the most important of all, must necessarily 
be present, namely, that I should confer the benefit for the 
sake of him whom I wish to receive it, that I should judge 
him worthy of it, bestow it of my own free will, and receive 
pleasure from my own gift, none of which conditions are 
present in the cases of which we have just now spoken; 
for we do not bestow such things as those upon these who 
are worthy of them, but we give them carelessly, as trifles, 
and do not give them so much to a man as to humanity. 

XXX. I shall not deny that sometimes I would give 
even to the unworthy, out of respect for others ; as, for in- 
stance, in competition for public offices, some of the basest 
of men are preferred on account of their noble birth, to 
industrious men of no family, and that for good reasons ; 
for the memory of great virtues is sacred, and more men 
will take pleasure in being good, if the respect felt for 
good men does not cease with their lives. What made 
Cicero’s son a consul, except his father? What lately 
brought Cinna ^ out of the cam]) of the enemy and raised 
him to the consulate ? Wliat made Sextus Pompeius and 
the other Pompeii consuls, unless it was the greatness of 
one man, who once was raised so high that, by his very fall, 
he sufficiently exalted aU his relatives. Wliat lately made 
Fabius Persieus a member of more than one college of 
j)riests, though even profligates avoided his kiss ? Was it 
not Verrucosus, and Allobrogicus, and the three hundred 
who to serve their country blocked the invader’s path with 
the force of a single family ? It is our duty to respect the 
virtuous, not only when 2)re8ent with us, but also when re- 
moved from our sight: as they have made it their study not 
to bestow their benefits upon one age alone, but to leave 
them existing after they themselves have j.)assed away, so 
let us not confine our gratitude to a single age. If a man 
* Si-e Sent'cu on “ Clemency,” book i., cU. ix. 



ON BENEFITS. 


118 


CH. XXXI.] 

has begotten great men, he deserves to receive benefits, 
whatever he himself maybe : he has given us worthy men. 
If a man descends from glorious ancestors, whatever he 
himself may be, let him find refuge under the shadow of 
his ancestry. As mean places are lighted up by the rays 
of the sun, so let the degenerate shine in the light of their 
forefathers. 

XXXI. In this place, my Liberahs, I wish to speak in 
defence of the gods. We sometimes say, “ What could 
Providence mean by placing an Arrhidaeus upon the 
throne ? ” Do you suppose that the crown was given to 
Arrhidaeus ? nay, it was given to his father and his brother. 
Why did Heaven bestow the empire of the world upon 
Caius Caesar, the most bloodthirsty of mankind, who was 
wont to order blood to be shed in his presence as freely as 
if he wished to drink of it ? Why, do you suppose that it 
was given to him ? It was given to his father, Gerinanieus, 
to his grandfather, his great grandfather, and to others 
before them, no less illustrious men, though they hved 
as private citizens on a footing of equality with others. 
Wliy, when you yourself were making Mamercus Scaurus 
consul, were you ignorant of his vices ? did he himself con- 
ceal them ? did he wish to appear decent ? 


Did you admit a man who was so openly filthy to the fasces 
and the tribunal ? Yes, it was because you were thinking 
of the great old Scaurus, the chief of the Senate, and were 
unwilling that his descendant should be despised. 

XXXII. It is probable that the gods act in the same 
manner, that they show greater indulgence to some for the 
sake of their parents and their ancestry, and to others for 
the sake of their children and grandchildren, and a long 
line of descendants beyond them ; for the/ know the whole 
course of their works, and* have constant access to the 


X 



114 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. IV. 


knowledge of all tliat shall hereafter pass through their 
liands. These things come upon us from the unknown 
future, and the gods have foreseen and are 'familiar with 
the events by which we are startled. “ Let these men,” 
says Providence, “ be kings, because their ancestors were 
good kings, because they regarded righteousness and tem- 
])erance as the highest rule of life, because they did not 
devote the state to themselves, but devoted themselves to 
the state. Let these others reign, because some one of 
their ancestors before them was a good man, who bore a 
soul superior to fortune, who preferred to be com^uered 
rather than .to conquer in civil strife, because it was more 
to the advantage of the state,^ It was not possible to make 
a sutFiciont return to him for this during so long a time ; 
let this other, therefore, out of regard for him, be chief of 
the people, not because he knows how, or is capable, but 
because the other has earned it for him. This man is mis- 
shapen, loathsome to look upon, and will disgrace the 
insignia of his office. Men will presently blame me, calling 
me blind and reckless, not knowing upon whom I am con- 
ferring Avhat ought to be given to the greatest and noblest 
of men; but I know that, in giving this dignity to one man, 

1 am paying an old debt to another. How should the men 
c»f to-day know that ancient hero, who so resolutely avoided 
tlic glory which pressed upon him, who went into danger 
with the same look which other men wear when they have 
escaped from danger, who never regarded his own interest 
as apart from that of the commonwealth ? ” “ Where,” 

you ask, “ or who is he? whence does he come ? ” “ You 
know him not; it lies with me to balance the debit and 
credit account in such cases as these ; I know how much I 
owe to each man; I repay some after a long interval, others 
beforehand, according as my opportunities and the exigen- 
cies of my social* system permit.” I shall, therefore, some- 
^ Gertz, “ Stud. Grit.,” p, 159, note. 



CH. XXXIII.J 


ON BENBlfiTS. 


115 


times bestow somewliat upon an ungrateful man, thougli 
not for bis own sake, 

XXXni ‘What,’* argues he, “if you do not know 
whether your man be ungrateful or grateful — will you wait 
until you know, or will you not lose the opportunity of 
bestowing a benefit ? To wait is a long business — for, as 
Plato says, it is hard to form an opinion about the human 
mind, — not to wait, is rash.” To this objector we shall 
answer, that we never should wait for absolute knowledge 
of the whole case, since the discovery of truth is an arduous 
task, but should proceed in the direction in which truth 
appeared to direct us. All our actions proceed in this 
direction : it is thus that we sow seed, that we sail upon 
the sea, that we serve in the army, marry, and bring up 
children. The result of all these actions is uncertain, so 
we take that course from which we believe that good 
results may be hoped for. Who can guarantee a harvest 
to the sower, a harbour to the sailor, victory to the soldier, 
a modest wife to the husband, dutiful children to the 
father?’ We proceed in the way in which reason, not 
absolute truth, directs us. Wait, do nothing that will 
not turn out well, form no opinion until you have searched 
out the truth, and your life will pass in absolute in- 
action, Since it is only the appearance of truth, not truth 
itself, which leads me hither or thither, I shall confer 
benefits upon the man who apparently will be grateful, 

XXXIV. “ Many circumstances,” argues he, “ may arise 
which may enable a bad man to steal into the place of a 
good one, or may cause a good man to be disliked as though 
he were a bad one ; for appearances, to which we trust, are 
deceptive.” Who denies it ? Yet I can find nothing else 
by which to guide my opinion. I must follow these tracks 
in my search after truth, for I have none more trustworthy 
than these ; I will take pains to weigh t!he value of these 
with all possible care, and will not hastily give my assent 



116 


OK BEKEKITS. 


to tllem. For instance, in a battle, it may happen that my 
hand may be deceived by some mistake into turning my 
weapon against my comrade, and sparing my enemy as 
tliougli lie were on my side ; but this will not often take 
place, and will not take place through any fault of mine, 
for my object is to strike the enemy, and defend my 
countryman. If I know a man to be ungrateful, I shall 
not bestow a benefit upon him. But the man has passed 
liimself off as a good man by some trick, and has im- 
posed upon me. Well, this is not at all the fault of 
the giver, who gave under the impression tliat his friend 
was grateful. “ Suppose,” asks he, “ that you were to 
promise to bestow a benefit, and afterwards wore to learn 
that your man was ungrateful, would you bestow it or not? 
If you do, you do wrong knowingly, for you give to one to 
whom you ought not ; if you refuse, you do wrong like- 
wise, for you do not give to him to whom you promised to 
give. This case upsets your consistency, and that proud 
assuran(;e of yours that the wise man never regrets his 
actions, or amends what he has done, or alters his plans.” 
The wise man never changes his plans while the conditions 
under which he formed tliem remain the same ; therefore, 
he never feels regret, because at the time nothing better 
than what he did could have been done, nor could any 
lietter decision have been arrived at than that which was 
made; yet ho begins everything with the saving clause, 
“If nothing shall occur to the contrary.” Tliis is the 
reason why we say that all goes well with him, and that 
nothing happens contrary to his expectation, because he 
bears in mind the ^possibility of something happening to 
prevent the realization of liis projects. It is an imprudent 
(Hpufidence to trust that fortune will be on our side. The 
wdse man considers both sides : he knows how great is the 
power of errors, ‘how uncertain human affairs are, hqw 
many obstacles there are to the success of plans. Without 



CH. XXXV.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


117 


coiimiitting himself, he awaits the donhtfiil and capricious 
issue of evi^nts, and weighs certainty of purpose against 
uncertainty of result. Here also, however, he is protected 
by that saving clause, without which he decides upon 
nothing, and begins nothing. 

XXXV. When I promise to bestow a benefit, I promise 
it, unless something occurs which makes it my duty not to 
do so. What if, for example, my country orders me to 
give to her what I had promised to my friend ? or if a law 
be passed forbidding any one to do what I had promised to 
do for him? Sujipose that I have promised you my 
daughter in marriage, that then you turn out to be a 
foreigner, and that I have no right of intermarriage with 
foreigners ; in this case, the law, by which I am forbidden 
to fulfil my promise, forms my defence. I shall be 
treacherous, and hear myself blamed for inconsistcmjy, 
only if I do not fulfil my promise when all conditions re- 
main the same as when I made it ; otherwise, any change 
makes me free to reconsider the entire case, and absolves 
me from my promise. I may have promised to plead a 
cause ; afterwards it ajipears that this cause is designed to 
form a precedent for an attack upon my father. I may 
have promised to leave my country, and travel abroad ; 
then news comes that the road is beset with robbers. I 
was going to an appointment at some particular place; 
but my son’s illness, or my wife’s confiiiement, prevented 
me. All conditions must be the same as they were when 
I made the promise, if you mean to hold me bound in 
honour to fulfil it. Now what greater change can take 
place than that I should discover you to be a bad and un- 
grateful man ? I sliall refuse to an univortliy man that 
which I had intended to give him supposing him to be 
worthy, and I shall also have reason to be angry with him 
for the trick which he has put upon me. 

XXXVI. I shall nevertheless look into the matter, and 



118 


on BENEFITS. 


[BK. IV. 


consider what the value of the thing promised may he. If 
it he trifling, I shall give it, not because you aris worthy of 
it, hut because I promised it, and I shall not give it as a 
present, hut merely in order to make good my words and 
give myself a twitch of the ear. I will punish my own 
rashness in promising by the loss of what I gave. “ See 
how grieved you are ; mind you take more care what you 
say in future.” As the saying is, I will take tongue money 
from you. If the matter he important, I will not, as 
Maecenas said, let ten million sesterces reproach me. I 
will weigh tlie two sides of the question one against the 
other : there is something in abiding by what you have 
promised ; on the other hand, there is a great deal in not 
bestowing a benefit upon one who is unworthy of it. Now, 
how great is this benefit ? If it is a trifling one, let us 
wink and let it pass ; but if it will cause me much loss or 
much shame to give it, I had rather excuse myself once for 
refusing it than have to do so ever after for giving it. The 
whole point, I repeat, depends upon how much the thing 
given is worth ; let the terms of my promise be appraised. 
Not only shall I refuse to give what I may have promised 
rashly, but I shall also demand back again what I may 
have wrongly bestowed : a man must be mad who keeps a 
promise made under a mistake. 

XXXVII. Philip, king of the Macedonians, had a hardy 
soldier whose services he had found useful in many cam- 
paigns. Prom time to time he made this man presents of 
part of the plunder as the reward of his valour, and used 
to excite his greedy spirit by his frequent gifts. This man 
was cast by shipwreck upon the estate of a certain Mace- 
donian, who as soon as he heard the news hastened to him, 
restored his breath, removed him to his own farmhouse, 
gave up his own bed to him, nursed him out of his 
weakened and half-dead condition, took care of him at his 
own expense for thirty days, restored him to health and 



CH. XXXTIII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


119 


gave him a sum of money for his journey, as the man kept 
constantly saying, “ If only I can see my chief, I will repay 
your kindness.” He told Philip of his shipwreck, said 
nothing about the help which he had received, and at once 
demanded that a certain man’s estate should, he given t(.> 
him. The man was a friend of his : it was that very man 
by whom he had been rescued and restored to health. 
Sometimes, especially in time of war, kings bestow many 
gifts with their eyes shut. One just man cannot deul with 
such a mass of armed selfishness. It is not possible for any 
one to be at the same time a good man and a good general 
How are so many thousands of insatiable men to bo satiated? 
What would they have, if every man had his own? Thus 
Philip reasoned with himself while he ordered the man to 
1)6 put ill possession of the property which he asked for. 
However, the other, when driven out of his estate, did not, 
like a peasant, endure his wrongs in silence, thankful that 
he himself was not given away also, but sent a sharp and 
outspoken letter to Philip, who, on reading it, was so much 
enraged that he straightway ordered Pausanias to restore 
the property to its former owner, and to brand tliat 
wickedest of soldiers, that most ungrateful of guests, that 
greediest of shipwreclred men, with letters bearing witness 
to his ingratitude. He, indeed, deserved to have the letters 
not merely branded but carved in his flesh, for having 
reduced his host to the condition in which he himself had 
been when he lay naked and shipwrecked upon the beach; 
still, let us see within what limits one ought to keep in 
punishing him. Of course what he had so villainously 
seized ought to be taken from him. But who would be 
affected by the spectacle of his punishment ? The crime 
which he had committed would prevent his being pitied 
even by any humane person. 

XXXVIII. Will Philip then give you a thing because he 
has promised to give it, even though he ought not to do so, 



120 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. it. 

even though he will commit a wrong hy doing so, nay, a 
crime, even though hy this one act he will make»it impossible 
for shipwrecked men to reach the shore ? There is no incon- 
sistency in giving up an intention which we have discovered 
to be wrong and have condemned as wrong; we ought 
candidly to admit, “I thought that it was something 
different ; I have been deceived.” It is mere pride and 
folly to persist, “ what I once have said, be it what it may, 
shall remain unaltered and settled.” There is no disgrace in 
altering one’s plans according to circumstances. Now, if 
Philip had left this man in possession of that seashore 
which he obtained by his shipwreck, would he not have 
practically pronounced sentence of banishment against all 
unfortunates for the future ? “ Eather,” says Philip, “ do 
thou carry upon thy forehead of brass those letters, that 
they may be impressed upon the eyes of all throughout 
my kingdom. Go, let men see how sacred a thing is the 
table of hospitality ; show them your face, that upon it 
they may read the decree wliich prevents its being a 
capital crime to give refuge to the unfortunate under one’s 
roof. The order will be more certainly respected by this 
means than if I had inscribed it upon tablets of brass.” 

XXXIX. “Why then,” argues our adversary, “did 
your Stoic philosopher Zeno, when he had promised a 
loan of five hundred denarii to some person, whom he 
afterwards discovered to be of doubtful character, persist in 
lending it, because of his promise, though his friends dis- 
suaded him from doing so ? ” In the first place a loan is 
on a different footing to a benefit. Even when we have 
lent money to an undesirable person we can recall it ; I 
can demand payment upon a certain day, and if he be- 
comes bankrupt, I can obtain my share of his property ; 
but a benefit is. lost utterly and instantly. Besides, the 
one is the act of a bad man, the other that of a bad father 
of a family. In the next place, if the sum had been a 



CH. XL.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


121 


larger one, not even Zeno would have persisted in lending 
it. It was ive hundred denarii ; the sort of sum of which 
one says, “ May he spend it in sickness,” and it was worth 
paying so much to avoid breaking his promise. I shall go 
out to supper, even though the weather be cold, because I 
have promised to go ; but I shall not if snow be falling. 
I shall leave my bed to go to a betrothal feast, although X 
may be suffering from indigestion ; but I shall not do so 
if I am feverish. I will become bail for you, because I 
promised ; but not if you wish me to become bail in some 
transaction of uncertain issue, if you expose me to forfeit- 
ing my money to the state. There runs through all 
these cases, I argue, an implied exception ; if I am. able, 
provided it is right for me to do so, if these things be so 
and so. Make the position the same when you ask me to 
fulfil my promise, as it was when I gave it, and it will be 
mere fickleness to disappoint you; but if something new has 
taken place in the meanwhile, why should, you wonder at 
my intentions being changed when the conditions under 
which I gave the promise are changed ? Put everything 
back as it was, and I shall be the same as I was. We enter 
into recognifances to appear, yet if we fail to do so an 
action will not in all cases lie against us, for we are excused 
for making default if forced to do so by a power winch we 
cannot resist. 

XL. You may take the same answer to the question as 
to whether we ought in all cases to show gratitude for 
kindness, and whether a benefit ought in all cases to be 
repaid. It is my duty to show a grateful mind, but in 
some cases my own poverty, in others the prosperity of the 
friend to whom I owe some return, will not permit me to 
give it. What, for instance, am I, a ];>oor man, to give to a 
king or a rich man in return for his kindness, especially as 
some men regard it as a wrong to have their benefits re- 
paid, and are wont to pile one benefit upon another? In 



122 


ON BENEFITS. 


dealing witli sucli persons, wlmt more can I do than wish 
to repay them ? Yet I ought not to refuse*to receive a 
new benefit, because I have not repaid the former one. I 
shall take it as freely as it is given, and will offer myself 
to my friend as a wide field for the exercise of his good 
nature : he who is unwilling to receive new benefits must 
be dissatisfied with what he has already received. Do you 
say, “ I shall not be able to return them ?” What is that 
to the purpose ? I am willing enough to do so if oppor- 
tunity or means were given me. He gave it to me, of course, 
having both opportunity and means : is he a good man or 
a bad one ? if he is a good man, I have a good case against 
him, and I will not plead if he be a bad one, Neither do I 
tliinlr it right to insist on mailing repayment, even though 
it be against the will of those whom we repay, and to press it 
upon them however reluctant they may be ; it is not repay- 
ment to force an unwilling man to resume wliat you wei»c 
once willing to take. Some people, if any trifling present 
be sent to them, afterwards send back something else for 
no particular reason, and then declare that they are under 
no obligation ; to send something back at once, and balance 
one present by another, is the next thing to refusing to 
receive it. On some occasions I shall not return a bene- 
fit, even though I be able to do so. When ? Wlien by so 
doing I shall myself lose more than he will gain, or if he 
would not notice any advantage to himself in receiving that 
which it would be a great loss to me to return. The man 
who is always eager to repay under all circumstances, has 
not the feeling of a grateful man, but of a debtor; and, to 
put it shortly, he who is too eager to rej)ay, is unwilling 
to be in his friend’s debt ; he who is unwilling, and yet is 
in his friend’s debt, is ungrateful. 



Book Y. 


1 . 

I ¥ the preceding hooks I seem to hn,ve acconiplishod 
the object wliicli I proposed to myseil', since in them 
I have discussed how a benefit ought to bo bestowed, and 
how it ought to be received. These are the limits of 
this action ; when I dwell upon it further I am not 
obeying the orders, but the caprices of iny subject which 
ought to be followed whither it leads, not whither it 
allures us to wander; for now and then something will 
arise, which, although it is all but unconnected with the 
subject, instead of being a necessary part of it, still thrills 
the mind with a certain charm. However, since you wish 
it to be so, let us go on, after having completed our discus- 
sion of the heads of the subject itself, to investigate those 
matters which, if you wish for truth, I must call adjacent 
to it, not actually connected with it; to examine which 
carefully is not one worth one’s while, and yet is not labour 
in vain, Ho praise, however, which I can give to benefits 
does justice to you, jEhutius Liberalis, a man of excellent 
disposition and naturally inclined to bestow them. Never 
have I seen any one esteem even the most trifling services 
more kindly ; indeed, your good-nature goes so far as to 
regard whatever benefit is bestowed upon anyone as be- 
stowed upon yourself ; you are prepared to pay even what 
IS owed by the ungrateful, that no one may regret having 
bestowed benefits. You yourself are so far from any 
boastfulness, you are so eager at once to free those whom 



124 


ON BENEFITS, 


[bk. V. 

you serve from any feeling of obligation to you, that you 
like, wben giving anything to any one, to ^eem not so 
much to be giving a present as returning One ; and there- 
fore what you give in this manner will all the more fully 
bo repaid to you ; for, as a rule, benefits come to one who 
does not demand repayment of them ; and just as glory 
follows those who avoid it, so men receive a more plentiful 
harvest in return for benefits bestowed upon those who had 
it in their power to be ungrateful. With you there is no 
reason why those who have received benefits from you 
should not ask for fresh ones ; nor would you refuse to 
bestow others, to overlook and conceal what you have given, 
and to add to it more and greater gifts, since it is the aim 
of all the best men and the noblest dispositions to bear 
with an ungrateful man until you make him grateful. Be 
not deceived in pursuing this plan ; vice, if you do not too 
soon begin to hate it, will yield to virtue. 

II. Thus it is that you are especially pleased with what 
you think the grandly-sounding phrase, “ It is disgraceful 
to be worsted in a contest of benefits.” Whether this be 
true or not deserves to be investigated, and it means some- 
thing quite different from what you imagine ; for it is never 
disgraceful to be worsted in any honourable contest, pro- 
vided that you do not throw down your arms, and that even 
when conquered you wish to conquer. All men do not strive 
for a good object with the same strength, resources, and 
good fortune, upon which depend at all events the issues 
of the most admirable projects, though we ought to praise 
the will itself which makes an effort in the right direction. 
Even though another passes it by witli swifter pace, yet 
the palm of victory does not, as in publicly-exhibited races, 
declare which is the better man ; though even in the games 
chance frequently brings an inferior man to the front. As 
far as loyalty of feeling goes, Avhich each man wishes to be 
possessed in the fullest measure on his ovm side, if one of 



ON BENEFITS. 


125 


CH. III.] 

tlie two "be ttie more powerful, if lie have at his disposal all 
the resources which he wishes to use, and be favoured by for- 
tune in his mbst ambitious efforts, while the other, although 
equally willing, can only return less than he receives, or 
perhaps can make no return at all, but still wishes to do 
so and is entirely devoted to this object ; then the latter is 
no more conquered than he who dies in arms, whom the 
enemy found it easier to slay than to turn back. To be 
conquered, which you consider disgi’aceful, cannot hapj)en 
to a good man ; for ho will never surrender, never give up 
the contest, to the last day of his life he will stand prepared 
and in that posture he will die, testifying that thougli he 
has received much, yet that ho had the will to repay as 
much as he had received. 

III. The Lacedaemonians forbid their young men to con- 
tend ill the pa-ncratiuni, or with the cacstus, in which 
games the defeated party has to acknowledge himself 
beaten. The winner of a race is he who first reaches the 
goal; he outstrips the others in swiftness, but not in 
courage. The wrestler who has been thrown three times 
loses the palm of victory, but does not yield it up. Since 
the Lacedaemonians thought it of great importance that 
their countrymen should be invincible, they kept them 
away from those contests in which victory is assigned, not 
by the judge, or by the issue of the contest itself, but by 
the voice of the vanquished begging the victor to spare 
him as he falls. This attribute of never being conquered, 
which they so jealously guard among their citizens, can be 
attained by all men through virtue and goodwill, because 
even when all else is vanquished, the mind remains un- 
conquered. For this cause no one speaks of the three 
hundred Fabii as conquered, but slaughtered. Eegulus 
was taken captive by the Carthaginians, not conquered ; and 
so were all other men who have not yielded in spirit when 
overwhelmed by the strength and weight of angry fortune. 



m 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. V. 


So is it with benefits. A man maj have received more 
than he gave, more valnable ones, more frequently be- 
stowed ; yet is he not vanquished. It may be that, if you 
compare the benefits with one another, those which he has 
received will outweigh those which he has bestowed ; but 
if you compare the giver and the receiver, whose intentions 
also ought to be considered apart, neither will prove the 
victor. It often happens that even when one combatant is 
pierced with many wounds, while the other is only slightly 
injured, yet they are said to have fought a drawn battle, 
although the former may appear to be the worse man. 

IV. No one, therefore, can be conquered in a contest of 
benefits, if he knows how to owe a debt, if he wishes to 
male a return for what he has received, and raises himself 
to the same level with his friend in spirit, though he can- 
not do so in material gifts. As long as he remains in this 
temper of mind, as long as he has the wish to declare by 
proofs that he has a grateful mind, what difl'erence does it 
make upon which side we can count the greater number of 
presents ? You are able to give much ; I can do notliing 
but receive. Fortune abides with you, goodwill alone with 
me ; yet I am as much on an equality with you as naked 
or lightly armed men are with a large body armed to the 
teeth. No one, therefore, is worsted by benefits, because 
each man’s gratitude is to be measured by his will. If it 
be disgraceful to be worsted in a contest of benefits, you 
ought not to receive a benefit from very powerful men 
whose kindness you cannot return, I mean such as princes 
and kings, whom fortune has placed in such a station that 
they can give away much, and can only receive very little 
and quite inadequate returns for what they give. I have 
s],)oken of kings and princes, who alone can cause works to 
be accomplished, and whose superlative power depend,s 
upon the obedience and services of inferiors ; but some 
tliere are, free from all earthly lusts, who are scarcely 



cn. v.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


127 


affected by any liuiiian ol>jects of desire, upon wlioin for- 
tune lierself could bestow nothing. I must be worsted in 
a contest of benefits with Socrates, or with Diogenes, who 
walked naked through the treasures of Macedonia, treading 
the king’s wealth under his feet. In good sooth, he must 
then rightly have seemed, both to himself and to all others 
whose eyes were keen enough to perceive the real truth, to 
be superior even to him at whose feet all the world lay. He 
was far more powerful, far richer even than Alexander, who 
then possessed everything; for there was more that Diogenes 
could refuse to receive than that Alexander was able to give. 

V. It is not disgraceful to be worsted by these men, for 
I am not the less brave because you pit me against an in- 
vulnerable enemy, nor does fire not burn because you 
throw into it something over which flames have no power, 
nor does iron lose its power of cutting, though you may 
wish to cut up a stone which is hard, impervious to blows, 
and of such a nature that hard tools are blunted upon it. 
I give you the same answer about gratitude. A man is 
not disgracefully worsted in a contest of benefits if he 
lays himself under an obligation to such persons as these, 
whose enormous wealth or admirable virtue shut out 
all possibility of their benefits being returned. As a rule 
we are worsted by our parents; for while we have the m 
wi th us, we regard them as severe, and do not understand 
w hat they do for us. W h en our age begins to bring us a 
little sense, and we gr adually perceive tliat they deserve 
our love for th ose very things which used to prevent ou r 
l oving them, their advice, their punishments, and the 
careful watch wliic^ they used to keep over our yoiitlifiil 
re cklessness, they are taken from us. De w live to reap any 
re al fruit from children ; most men feel their sons only as 
a burden. Yet th ere is no (iisgraee in being worsted by 
on e’s parent in bestowing benefits ; how should there be, 
seeing that there is no disgrace in being worsted by any- 









128 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. V. 

one, We are equal to some men, and yet not equal ; equal 
in intention, wliicli is all that they care for, which is all 
that we promise to be, hut unequal in forlune. And if 
fortune prevents any one from repaying a kindness, he 
need not, therefore, blush, as though he were vanquished ; 
there is no disgrace in failing to reach your object, pro- 
vided you attempt to reach it. It often is necessary, that 
before making any return for the benefits which we have 
received, we should ask for new ones ; yet, if so, we shall 
not refrain from asking for them, nor shall we do so as 
though disgraced by so doing, because, even if we do not 
repay the debt, we shall owe it ; because, even if something 
from without befalls us to prevent our repaying it, it will 
not be our fault if we are not grateful. We can neither 
be conquered in intention, nor can we be disgraced by 
yielding to what is beyond our strength to contend with. 

VI. Alexander, the king of the Macedonians, used to 
boast that he had never been worsted by anybody in a 
contest of benefits. If so, it was no reason why, in the 
fulness of his pride, he should despise the Macedonians, 
Greeks, Carians, Persians, and other tribes of whom his 
army was composed, nor need he imagine that it was this 
that gave him an empire reaching from a corner of Tlirace 
to the shore of the unknown sea. Socrates could make 
the same boast, and so could Diogenes, by whom Alexander 
was certainly suiqDassed ; for was he not surpassed on the 
day when, swelling as he was beyond the limits of merely 
human pride, he beheld one to whom he could give nothi^ag- 
from whom he could take nothing ? King Archclaus in 
vited Socrates to come to him. Socrates is reported to 
have answered that he should be sorry to go to one who 
would bestow benefits upon him, since he should not be 
able to make him an adequate return for them, In the 
first place, Socrates was at liberty not to repeiyo, them ; 
next, Socrates himself would hivo been the first to bestow a 



CH. VI.J ON BENEFITS. 

benefit, for be would have come wbeii invited, and would 
bave given t« Arcbelaus that for wbieb Arcbelaus could 
bavo made no return to Socrates, Even if Arcbelaus were 
to give Socrates gold and silver, if be learned in return for 
them to despise gold and silver, would not Socrates be able 
to repay Arcbelaus ? Could Socrates receive from bim as 
much value as be gave, in displaying to bim a man skilled 
in tbe knowledge of life and of death, compreliending tbe 
true purpose of each? Suppose that be bad found tins 
king, as it were, groping bis way in tbe clear sunlight, and 
bad taught him tbe secrets of nature, of which be was so 
ignorant, that when there was an eclipse of the sun, be 
shut up bis palace, and shaved bis sou’s bead,’ wbieb men 
are wont to do in times of mourning and distress. What 
a benefit it would bave been if bo bad dragged tbe terror- 
stricken Idng out of his hiding-place, and bidden him be of 
good cheer, saying, “This is not a disappearance of tbe 
sun, but a conjunction of two heavenly bodies ; for the 
moon, which proceeds along a lower path, has placed her 
disk beneath tbe sun, and bidden it by the interposition of 
her own mass. Sometimes she only bides a small portion 
of tbe sun’s disk, because she only graises it in passing ; 
sometimes she hides more, by placing more of herself 
before it ; and sometimes she shuts it out from our sight 
altogether, if she passes in an exactly even course between 
the sun and the earth. Soon, however, their own swift 
Uiotion will draw these two bodies apart ; soon tbe earth 
will receive back again the light of day. And this system 
will continue throughout centuries, having certain days, 
known beforehand, upon which the sun cannot display all 
his rays, because of the intervention of the moon. Wait 
only for a short time ; he will soon emerge, he will soon 
leave that seeming clond, and freely shed abroad his light 

^ Gertz very reasonably conjectiwes that he shaved his own head 
which reading would require a very trifling alteration of the text. 



130 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. t. 

without any hindrances.” Could Socrates not have made 
an adequate return to Archelaus, if he had taught him to 
reign? as though Socrates would not benefit him suffi- 
ciently, merely by enabling him to bestow a benefit upon 
Socrates. Why, then, did Socrates say this? Being a 
joker and a speaker in parables — a man who turned all, 
especially the great, into ridicule — he preferred giving 
him a satirical refusal, rather than an obstinate or haughty 
one, and therefore said that he did not wish to receive 
benefits from one to whom he could not return as much as 
he received. He feared, perhaps, that he might be forced 
to receive something which he did not wish, he feared that 
it might be something unfit for Socrates to receive. Some 
one may say, “ He ought to have said that he did not wish 
to go.” But by so doing he would have excited against him- 
self the anger of an arrogant king, who wished everything 
connected with himself to be highly valued. It makes no 
difference to a king whether you be unwilling to give any- 
thing to him or to accept anything from him ; he is equally 
incensed at either rebuff, and to be treated witli disdain is 
more bitter to a proud spirit than not to be feared. Do 
you wish to know what Socrates really meant ? He, whose 
freedom of speech could not be borne even by a free state, 
was not willing of his own choice to become a slave. 

VII. I think that we have sufficiently discussed this 
part of the subject, whether it be disgraceful to be worsted 
in a contest of benefits. Wlioever asks this questioia 
must know that men are not wont to bestow benefits upon 
themselves, for evidently it could not be disgraceful to 
be worsted by oneself. Yet some of the Stoics debate this 
question, whether any one can confer a benefit upon him- 
self, and whether one ought to return one’s own kindness 
to oneself. This discussion has been raised in consequence 
of our habit of saying, “ I am thankful to myself,” “ I can 
complain of no one but myself,” “I am angry with my- 



CH. VII.J ON BENEFITS. 131 

self/' “ I will punisli myself,” “ I hate myself,” and many 
other phrase^ of the same sort, in which one speaks of one- 
self as one would of some other person. “ If,” they argue, 
“ I can injure myself, why should I not be able also to be- 
stow a benefit upon myself ? Besides this, why are those 
things not called benefits when I bestow them upon myself 
which would be called benefits if I bestowed them upon 
another ? If to receive a certain thing from another would 
lay me under an obligation to him, how is it that if I give 
it to myself, I do not contract an obligation to myself ? 
why should I be ungrateful to my own self, which is no 
less disgraceful than it is to be mean to oneself, or hard 
and cruel to oneself, or neglectful of oneself ? The pro- 
curer is equally odious whether he prostitutes others or 
himself. We blame a flatterer, and one who imitates an- 
other man’s mode of speech, or is prepared to give praise 
whether it be deserved or not ; we ought equally to blame 
one who humours himself and looks up to himself, and so 
to speak is his own flatterer. Vices are not only hateful 
when outwardly practised, but also when they are repressed 
within the mind. Whom would you admire more than he 
who governs himself and has himself under command ? It 
is easier to rule savage nations, impatient of foreign con- 
trol, than to restrain one’s own mind and keep it under 
one’s own control. Plato, it is argued, was grateful to 
Socrates for having been taught by him ; why should not 
Socrates be grateful to himself for having taught himself ? 
Marcus Cato said, “Borrow from yourself whatever you 
lack ; ” why, then, if I can lend myself anything, should I be 
unable to give myself anything? The instances in which 
usage divides us into two persons are innumerable ; we are 
wont to say, “ Let me converse with myself,” and, “ I will 
give myself a twitch of the ear;”* and if it be true that 


’ See book iv. ch. xxxvi. 



1^2 ON BENEFITS. [BE. V- 

one can do so, tlicn a man ought to be grateful to himself, 
just as he is angry with himself ; as he blamp himself, so 
he ought to praise himself ; since he can impoverish him* 
self, he can also enrich himself. Injuries and benefits are 
the converse of one another : if we say of a man, ‘he has done 
himself an injury,’ we can also say ‘he has bestowed upon 
himself a benefit ? ’ 

Vin. It is natural that a man should first incur an 
obligation, and then that he should return gratitude for it ; 
a debtor cannot exist without a creditor, any more than a 
husband without a wife, or a son without a father ; some- 
one must give in order that some one may receive. Just 
as no one carries himself, although he moves his body and 
trfin sports it from place to place; as no one, though he 
may have made a speech in his own defence, is said to have 
stood by himself, or erects a statue to himself as his 
own patron ; as no side man, when by his own care he has 
regained his health, asks himself fora fee; so in no trans- 
action, even when a man does what is useful to himself, need 
he return thanks to himself, because there is no one to whom 
he can return them. Though I grant that a man can be- 
stow a benefit upon himself, yet at the same time that he 
gives it, he also receives it ; though I grant that a man 
may receive a benefit from himself, yet he receives it at the 
same time that he gives it. The exchange takes place 
within doors, as they say, and the transfer is made at once, 
as though the debt were a fictitious one ; for he who gives 
is not a different person to he who receives, but one and 
tlie same. Tlie word “ to owe ” has no meaning except as 
between two persons; how then can it apply to one man 
who incurs an obligation, and by the same act frees himself 
from it ? In a disk or a ball there is no top or bottom, no 
lieginuing or end, because the relation of the parts is 
changed when it moves, what was beliind coming before, 
and what went dowm on one side coming up on the other, 



ON BENEFITS. 


133 


CH. VIII.] 

SO that all tlie parts, in whatever direction they may move, 
come hack to the same position. Imagine that the same 
thing takes j^lace in a man ; into however many pieces you 
may divide him, he remains one. If he strikes himself, he 
has no one to call to account for the insult ; if he hinds him- 
self and locks himself up, he cannot demand damages ; if 
he bestows a benefit upon himself, he straightway returns 
it to the giver. It is said that there is no waste in nature, 
because everything which istaken from nature returns to her 
again, and nothing can perish, because it cannot fall out of 
nature, but goes round again to the point from whence it 
started. You ask, “ What connection has this illustration 
with the subject? ” I will tell you. Imagine yourself to 1)0 un- 
grateful, the benefit bestowed upon you is not lost, he who 
gave it has it ; suppose that you are unwilling to receive it, 
it still belongs to you before it is returned. You cannot lose 
anything, because what you take away from yourself, you 
nevertheless gain yourself, Tlie matter revolves in a circle 
within yourself ; by receiving you give, by giving you receive. 

IX. “ It is our duty,” argues our adversary, “ to bestow 
benefits upon ourselves, therefore we ought also to be 
grateful to ourselves.” The original axiom, upon wliich tlie 
inference depends, is untrue, for no one bestows benefits 
upon himself, but obeys the dictates of his nature, which 
disposes him to affection for himself, and whicli makes 
him take the greatest pains to avoid hurtful things, and to 
follow after those things which are profitable to him. 
Consequently, the man who gives to himself is not generous, 
nor is ho who pardons himself forgiving, nor is he who is 
touched by his own misfortunes tender-hearted; it is natural 
to do those things to oneself which when done to oilier s 
become generosity, clemency, and tenderness of heart. A 
benefit is a voluntary act, but to do good to oneself is an 
instinctive one. The more benefits a man bestows, the more 
beneficent he is, yet who ever was praised for liaving been 



134 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. Y. 


of service to himself? or for having rescued himself from 
brigands? No one bestows a benefit upon himself any 
more than he bestows hosjiitality upon himself; no one 
gives himself anything, any more than he lends himself 
anything. If each man bestows benefits upon himself, 
is always bestowing them, and bestows them without any 
cessation, then it is impossible for him to make any cal- 
culation of the number of his benefits ; when then can he 
show his gratitude, seeing that by the very act of doing so 
he would bestow a benefit ? for what distinction can you 
draw between giving himself a benefit or receiving a bene- 
fit for himself, when the whole transaction takes place in 
the mind of the same man ? Suppose that I have freed my- 
self from danger, then I have bestowed a benefit upon my- 
self ; suppose I free myself a second time, by so doing do 
I bestow or repay a benefit ? In the next place, even if I 
grant the primary axiom, that we can bestow benefits upon 
ourselves, I do not admit that which follows ; for even if 
we can do so, we ought not to do so. Wherefore ? Because 
we receive a return for them at once. It is right for me to 
receive a benefit, then to lie under an obligation, then to 
repay it ; now here there is no time for remaining under 
an obligation, because we receive the return without any 
delay. No one really gives except to another, no one owes 
except to another, no one repays except to another. An 
act which always requires two persons cannot take place 
within the mind of one. 

X. A benefit means the affording of something useful, 
and the word affording implies other persons. Would not 
a man be thought mad if he said that he had sold some- 
thing to himself, because selling means alienation, and 
the transferring of a thing and of one’s rights in that thing 
to another person ? Yet giving, like selling anything, con- 
sists in making it pass away from you, handing over what 
you yourself once owned into the keeping of some one else. 



ON BENEFITS. 


CH. XI.] 


1^5 


If this be so, no one ever gave himself a benefit, because no 
one gives to himself ; if not, two opposites coalesce, so that 
it becomes the same thing to give and to receive. Yet 
there is a great difference between giving and receiving ; 
how should there not be, seeing that these words are the 
converse of one another ? Still, if any one can give himself 
a benefit, there can be no difference between giving and 
receiving. I said a little before that some words apply 
only to other persons, and are so constituted that their 
whole meaning lies apart from ourselves ; for instance, I 
am a brother, but a brother of some other man, for no one 
is his own brother ; I am an equal, but equal to somebody 
else, for who is equal to himself? A thing which is com- 
pared to another thing is unintelligible without that other 
thing ; a thing which is joined to something else does not 
exist apart from it ; so that which is given does not exist 
without the other person, nor can a benefit have any exis- 
tence without another person. This is clear from the very 
phrase which describes it, ‘ to do good,’ yet no one does good 
to himself, any more than he favours himself or is on his 
own side, I might enlarge further upon this subject and 
give many examples. Why should benefits not be included 
among those acts which require two persons to perform 
them ? Many honourable, most admirable and highly vir- 
tuous acts cannot take place without a second person. 
Fidelity is praised and held to be one of the chief blessings 
known among men, yet was any one ever on that account 
said to have kept faith with himself ? 

XI. I come now to the last part of this subject. The 
man who returns a kindness ought to expend something, 
just as he who repays expends money; but the man who 
returns a kindness to himself expends nothing, just as he 
who receives a benefit from himself gains nothing. A 
benefit and gratitude for it must pass to and fro between 
two persons ; their interchange cannot take place within 



ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. V. 


lo() 


one man. He who returns a kindness does good in his 
turn to him from whom he has received something ; but 
the man who returns liis own kindness, to wtioin does he 
do good ? To himself ? Is there aay one who does not 
regard the returning of a kindness, and the bestowal 
of a benefit, as distinct acts ? ‘ He who returns a kindness 
to himself does good to himself.’ Was any man ever un- 
willing to do this, even tliough he were ungrateful ? nay, 
who ever was ungrateful from any other motive than this ? 
“ If,” it is argued, we are right in thanking ourselves, we 
ought to return our own kindness ; ” yet we say, “ I am 
thankful to myself for having refused to marry that 
M'oman,” or “ for having refused to join a partnershij) with 
that man.” When we speak thus, we are really praising 
ourselves, and make use of the language of those who re- 
turn thanks to approve our own acts. A benefit is something 
which, when given, may or may not be returned. Now, ho 
who gives a benefit to himself must needs receive what he 
gives; therefore, this is not a benefit. A benefit is re- 
ceived at one time, and is returned at another ; (but when 
a man bestows a benefit upon himself, he both receives it 
and r(ituriiB it at the same time). In a benefit, too, what we 
commend and admire is, that a man has for the time being 
forgotten his own interests, in order that he may do good 
to anotlier ; that he has deprived himself of something, in 
order to bestow it upon another. Now, he who bestows a 
benefit upon himself does not do this. The bestowal of a 
benefit is an act of com))anionship — it wins some man’s 
friendship, and lays some man under an obligation ; but 
to bestow it upon oneself is no act of compaidonship — it 
wins no man’s friendship, lays no man under an obliga- 
tion, raises no man’s hopes, or leads liim to say, “This man 
must be courted ; he bestowed a benefit upon that person, 
perhaps he will bestow one upon me also.” A benefit is a thing 
which one gives not for one’s own sake, but for the sake of 



OH. XII.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


137 


Jiim to wliorn it is given j but lie wbo bestows a benefit upon 
liimself, does so for bis own sake ; therefore, it is not a benefit. 

XII. Now I seem to you not to have made good what I 
said at the beginning of this book. You say that I am far 
from doing what is worth any one’s while; nay, that in real 
fact I have thrown away all my trouble. Wait, and soon 
you will be able to say this more truly, for I si) all lead 
you into covert lurking-j)la,ces, from which when you 
have escaped, you will have gained nothing ex(!ept 
that you will have freed yourself from difiiciilties with 
which you need never have hamiiered yourself. Wliat is 
the use of laboriously untying knots which you yourself 
have tied, in order that you might untie them ? Yet, just 
as some knots are tied in fun and for amusement, so 
that a tyro may find difficulty in untying them, wliich 
Iviiots he who tied the}n can loose without any trouble, 
because he knows the joinings and the dilficulties of them, 
and these nevertheless alford us some pleasure, because 
they test the sharpness of our wits, and engross our atten- 
tion ; so also these questions, which seem subtle and tricky, 
prevent our intellects becoming careless and lazy, for they 
ought at one time to have a field given them to level, in 
order that they may wander about it, and at another to 
have some dark and rough passage thrown in their way for 
thein to creep through, and make their way with caution. 
It is said by our opponent that no one is ungrateful ; and 
this is supported by the following arguments : “ A benefit 
is that which does good ; but, as you Stoics say, no one can 
do good to a bad man ; therefore, a bad man does not re- 
ceive a benefit. (If he does not receive it, he need not 
return it ; therefore, no bad man is ungrateful.) Furtln;r- 
niore, a benefit is an honourable and commendable thing. 
No honourable or commendable thing can find any place 
with a bad man; therefore, neither can a benefit. If 
he cannot receive one, he need not repay one; therefore, he 



138 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. V, 


does not become ungrateful. Moreover, as you say, a good 
man does everything rightly; if he does everything rightly, 
he cannot be ungrateful. A good man returua a benefit, a 
bad man does not receive one. If this be so, no man, good 
or bad, can be ungrateful. Therefore, there is no such 
thing in nature as an ungrateful man : the word is mean- 
ingless.” We Stoics have only one kind of good, that which 
is honourable. This cannot come to a bad man, for he 
would cease to be bad if virtue entered into him ; but as 
long as he is bad, no one can bestow a benefit upon him, 
because good and bad are contraries, and cannot exist 
together. Therefore, no one can do good to such a man, 
because whatever he receives is corrupted by his vicious 
way of using it. Just as the stomach, when disordered by 
disease and secreting bile, changes all the food which it 
receives, and turns every kind of sustenance into a source 
of pain, so whatever you entrust to an ill-regulated mind 
becomes to it a burden, an annoyance, and a source of 
misery. Thus the most prosperous and the richest men 
have the most trouble ; and the more property they have 
to perplex them, the less likely they are to find out what 
they really are. Nothing, therefore, can reach bad men 
which would do them good ; nay, nothing which would not 
do them harm. They change whatever falls to their lot 
into their own evil nature; and things which elsewhere 
would, if given to better men, be both beautiful and pro- 
fitable, are ruinous to them. They cannot, therefore,, 
bestow benefits, because no one can give what he does not 
possess, and, therefore, they lack the pleasure of doing 
good to others. 

Xni. But, though this be so, yet even a bad man can 
receive some things which resemble benefits, and he will be 
ungrateful if he does not return them. There are good 
things belonging to the mind, to the body, and to fortune. 
A fool or a bad man is debarred from the first — those, 



CH. XIV. J ON BENEFITS, 139 

that is, of the mind ; hut he is admitted to a share in the 
two latter, if he does not return them, he is ungrate- 
ful. Nor does this follow from our (Stoic) system aloue 
the Peripatetics, also, who widely extend the boundaries of 
human happiness, declare that trifling benefits reach bad 
men, and that he who does not return them is ungrateful. 
We therefore do not agree that things which do not tend 
to improve the mind should be called benefits, yet do not 
deny that these things are convenient and desirable. Such 
things as these a bad man may bestow upon a good man, 
or may receive from hi m — such, for example, as money, 
clothes, public office, or life ; and, if he makes no return 
for these, he will come under the denomination of un- 
grateful. “ But how can you call a man ungrateful for 
not returning that which you say is not a benefit?” Some 
things, on account of their similarity, are included under 
the same designation, although they do not really deserve 
it. Thus we speak of a silver or golden box ; ^ thus we call 
a man illiterate, although he may not be utterly ignorant, 
but only not acquainted with the higher branches of litera- 
ture ; thus, seeing a badly-dressed ragged man we say that 
we have seen a naked man. These things of which we 
spoke are not benefits, but they possess the appearance of 
benefits. “ Then, just as they are quasi-benefits, so your 
man is quasi -ungrateful, not really ungrateful.” This is 
untrue, because both he who gives and he who receives 
them speaks of them as benefits ; so he who fails to return 
the semblance of a real benefit is as much an ungrateful 
man as he who mixes a sleeping draught, believing it to be 
poison, is a poisoner. 

XIV. Cleanthes speaks more impetuously than this, 
“ Granted,” says he, “ that what he received was not a 
benefit, yet he is ungrateful, because he would not have 

^ “ The original word is ‘ pyx/ which means a box made of box- 
wood” 



140 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. V. 

returiiod a benefit if be bad received one,” So he who 
carries deadly wea,pons and has intentions of robbing and 
murdering, is a brigand even before he has dipped his 
bands in blood ; his wickedness consists and is sliown in 
action, but does not begin thereby. Men are punislicd for 
sacrilege, although no one’s bands can reach to the gods. 
“ How,” asks our oi^ponent, “ can any one be ungrateful 
to a bad man, since a ba,d man cannot bestow a bene- 
fit?” In the same way, I answer, because that which 
he rc^ceived was not a benefit, but was called one ; if any 
one receives from a bad man any of those things which are 
valued by the ignorant, and of which bad men often 
j)ossess great store, it becomes his duty to make a return 
in the same kind, and to give back as though they were 
truly good those things which he received as though they 
were truly good. A man is said to be in debt, whether he 
owes gold pieces or leather marked with a state stamp, 
such as the Lacedaemonians used, which passes for coined 
money. Pay your debts in that kind in which you incurred 
them. You have nothing to do witli the definition of 
benefits, or with the question whether so great and noble a 
name ought to be degraded by applying it to such vulgar 
and mean matters as these, nor do we seek for truth, that 
we may use it to the disadvantage of others ; do you adjust 
your minds to the semblance of truth, and while you are 
learning what is really honourable, respect everything to 
which the name of honour is applied. 

XV. “ Li the same way,” argues our adversary, “ that 
your school proves that no one is ungrateful, you afterwards 
prove that all men are ungrateful. For, as you say, all 
fools are bad men ; he who has one vice has all vices ; all 
men are both fools and bad men ; therefore all men are 
ungrateful.” Well, what then? Are they not? Is not 
tins the universal reproach of the human race ? is there 
not a general complaint that benefits are thrown away, and 



CH. XV.] 


0'S BENEFITS. 


141 


that there are very few men who do not requite their 
benefactors ^ith the basest ingratitude ? Nor need you 
suppose that what we say is merely the grumbling of men 
who think every act wicked and depraved which falls sliort 
of an ideal standard of righteousness. Listen ! I know' 
not who it is who speaks, yet the voice with which he con- 
demns mankind pi’oceeds, not from the schools of philo- 
sophers, but from the midst of the crowd : 

“ Host is nett safe from guest ; 

Father-in-law from son ; but seldom love 
Exists ’twixt brothers ; wives long to destroy 
Their husbands 5 husbands long to slay their wives,” 

This goes even further : according to tliis, crimes take the 
place of benefits, and men do not shrink from shedding 
the blood of those for whom they ought to shed their own ; 
we requite benefits by steel and poison. We call laying 
violent hands upon our own country, and putting down its 
resistance by the fasces of its own lictors, gaming power 
and great place ; every man thinks himself to be in a 
mean and degr ided position if he lias not raised himself 
above the cons itutioii; the armies which are received from 
the state are turned against her, and a general now says to 
his men, “Night against your wives, fight against your 
children, march in arms against your altars, your hearths 
and homes ! ” Yes,^ you, who even when about to f riunqh 
ouglit not to enter the city at the command of the senate, 
and who have often, when bringing home a victorious army, 
been given an audience outside the walls, you now, after 
slaughtering your countrymen, stained with the blood of 
your kindred, march into the city with standards erect. 
“ Let liberty,” say you, “ be silent amidst the ensigns of 
war, and now that wars are driven far away and no ground 

’ I believe, in spite of Gertz, that this is part of the speech of the 
Koraan general, and that the conjecture of Muretus, “ without the com- 
mand of the senate,” gives better sense. 



142 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. V. 


for terror remains, let that people which conquered and 
civilized all nations be beleaguered within its own walls, 
and shudder at the sight of its own eagles.” 

XVI. Coriolanus was ungrateful, and became dutiful 
late, and after repenting of his crime ; he did indeed lay 
down his arms, but only in the midst of his unnatural 
warfare. Catilina was ungrateful; he was not satisfied 
with taking his country captive without overturning it, 
without despatching the hosts of the Allobroges against it, 
without bringing an enemy from beyond the Alps to glut 
his old inborn hatred, and to offer Eoman generals as 
sacrifices which had been long owing to the tombs of the 
Gaulish dead. Caius Marius was ungrateful, when, after 
being raised from the ranks to the consulship, he felt that 
he would not have wreaked his vengeance upon fortune, 
and would sink to his original obscurity, unless he slaugh- 
tered Bornans as freely as he had slaughtered the Cimbri, 
and not merely gave the signal, but was himself the 
signal for civil disasters and butcheries. Lucius Sulla was 
ungrateful, for he saved his country by using remedies 
worse than the perils with which it was threatened, when 
he marched through human blood all the way from the 
citadel of Praeneste to the Colline Gate, fought more 
battles and caused more slaughter afterwards within the city, 
and most cruelly after the victory was won, most wickedly 
after quarter had been promised them, drove two legions 
into a corner and put them to the sword, and, great gods I 
invented a proscription by which he who slew a Eoman 
citizen received indemnity, a sum of money, everything but 
a civic crown ! Cnaeus Pompeius was ungrateful, for the 
return which he made to his country for three consulships, 
three triumphs, and the innumerable public offices into 
most of which he thrust himself when under age, was to 
lead others also to lay hands upon her under the pretext 
of thus rendering his own power less odious ; as though 



CH. XVI.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


143 


whafc BO one ought to do became right if more than one 
person did Whilst he was coveting extraordinary 
commands, arranging the provinces so as to have his own 
choice of them, and dividing the whole state with a tliird 
person,^ in such a manner as to leave two-thirds of it in the 
possession of his own family he reduced the Eoman people 
to such a condition that they could only save themselves by 
submitting to slavery. The foe and conqueror of Porapeius 
was himself ungrateful ; he brought war from Gaul and 
Germany to Eome, and he, the friend of the populace, the 
champion of the commons, pitched his camp in the Circus 
Plaminius, nearer to the city than Porsena’s camp had 
been. He did, indeed, use the cruel privileges of victory 
with moderation ; as was said at the time, he protected his 
countrymen, and put to death no man who was not in 
arms. Yet what credit is there in this ? Others used their 
arras more cruelly, but flung them away when glutted 
with blood, while he, though he soon sheathed the sword, 
never laid it aside. Antonins was ungrateful to his dic- 
tator, who he declared was rightly slain, and whose mur- 
derers he allowed to depart to their commands in the 
provinces ; as for his country, after it had been tom to 
pieces by so many proscriptions, invasions, and civil wars, 
he intended to subject it to kings, not even of Eoman 
birth, and to force that very state to pay tribute to 
eunuchs,* which had itself restored sovereign rights, auto- 
nomy, and immunities, to the Achaeans, the Ehodians, and 
the people of many other famous cities. 

^ Crass us. 

* Pompey was married to Caesar’s daughter. Cf. Virg., “ Aen./’vi., 
831, e?., and Lucan’s beautiful verses, “ Pliars.,” i., 114. 

3 Seneca is careful to avoid the mention of Caesar’s name, which might 
have given offence to the emperors under whom he lived, who used the 
name as a title, 

* The allusion is to Antoniiis’s connection witli Cleopatra. Cf. Vivg. 
“ Aon.,’’ viii., 688. 



144 ON BENEFITS. [bK V. 

XVII. The day would not be long enough for me to 
enumerate those who have pushed their ingrMitude so far 
as to ruin their native land. It would be as vast a tash to 
mention how often the state has been ungrateful to its best 
and most devoted lovers, although it has done no less wrong 
than it has suffered. It sent Oamillus and Scipio into 
exile; even after the death of Catiline it exiled Cicero, 
destroyed his house, plundered his jiroperty, and did every- 
thing which Catiline would have done if victorious ; Euti- 
lius found his virtue rewarded with a hiding-place in Asia ; 
to Cato the Eoman^ people refused the praetorship, and 
persisted in refusing the consulship. We are ungrateful in 
jmblic matters ; and if every man asks himself, you will find 
that there is no one who has not some private ingratitude 
to complain of. Yet it is impossible that all men should 
complain, unless all were deserving of complaint, therefore 
all men are ungrateful. Are they imgratef ul alone ? nay, 
they are also all covetous, all spiteful, and all cowardly,' 
especially those who appear daring; and, besides this, all 
men fawn upon the great, and all are impious. Yet you 
need not be angry with them ; pardon thorn, for they are 
all mad. I do not wish to recall you to what is not proved, 
or to say, “ See how ungrateful is youth ! what young man, 
even if of innocent life, does not long for his father’s 
death ? even if moderate in his desires, does not look for- 
ward to it ? even if dutiful, does not think about it ? How 
few there are who fear the death even of the best of wives, 
who do not even calculate the probabilities of it. Pray, 
what litigant, after having been successfully defended, re- 
tains any remembrance of so great a benefit for more than 
a few days ? ” All agree that no one dies without com- 
plaining. Who on his last day dares to say, 

“ I’ve lived, I’ve done the task which Fortune set me.” 

Who does not leave the world with reluctance, and with 



ON BENEFITS. 


145 


CH. XVIIL] 

lamentations ? Yet it is tlie part of an ungrateful man not 
to be satisfied with the past. Tour days will always be 
few if you count them. Eeflect that length of time is not 
the greatest of blessings ; make the best of your time, how_ 
over short it may be ; even if the day of your death be 
postponed, your happiness will not be increased, for life is 
merely made longer, not pleasanter, by delay. How much 
better is it to be thankful for the pleasures wliich one has 
received, not to reckon up the years of others, but to set a 
high value upon one’s own, and score them to one’s credit, 
saying, “ G-od thought me worthy of this ; I am satisfied 
with it ; he might have given me more, but this, too, is a 
benefit.” Let us be grateful towards both gods and men, 
grateful to those who have given us anything, and grateful 
even to those who have given anything to our relatives. 

XYIII. “You render me liable to an infinite debt of 
gratitude,” says our opponent, “ when you say ‘ even to 
those who have given any thing to our relations,’ so fix some 
limit. He who bestows a benefit upon the son, according 
to you, bestows it likewise upon the father: this is the 
first question I wish to raise. In the next place I should 
like to have a clear definition of whether a benefit, if it be 
bestowed upon your friend’s father as well as upon him- 
self, is bestowed also upon his brother ? or upon his uncle ? 
or his grandfather? or his wife and his father-in-law? 
tell me where I am to stop, how far I am to follow out the 
pedigree of the family ? ” 

Seneca. If I cultivate your land, I bestow a benefit 
upon you; if I extinguish your house when burning, or 
prop it so as to save it from falling, I shall bestow a benefit 
upon you ; if I heal your slave, I shall charge it to you ; if 
I save your son’s life, will you not thereby receive a benefit 
from me ? 

XIX. The Adversary. Your instances are not to the 
purpose, for he who cultivates 'my land, does not benefit 

L 



ON BENEFITS. 


14 (? 


[bk. V. 


tlie land, "but me ; lie wlio props my house so that it does 
not fall, does this service to me, for the hpuse itself is 
without feeling, and as it has none, it is I who am in- 
debted to him; and he who cultivates my land does so 
because he wishes to oblige me, not to oblige the land. I 
sliould say the same of a slave ; he is a chattel owned by 
me ; he is saved for my advantage, therefore I am indebted 
for him. My son is himself capable of receiving a bene- 
fit ; so it is he who receives it ; I am gratified at a benefit 
wliich comes so near to myself, but am not laid under any 
obligation. 

Se. Still I should like you, who say that you are under no 
obligation, to answer me this. Tlie good health, the happi- 
piness, and the inheritance of a son are connected with his 
father ; his father will be more happy if he keeps his son 
safe, and more unhappy if he loses him. What follows, 
then ? when a man is made happier by me and is freed 
from the greatest danger of unhappiness, does he not re- 
ceive a benefit ? 

An. No, because there are some things which are be- 
stowed upon others, and yet flow from them so as to reach 
ourselves ; yet we must ask the person upon whom it was 
bestowed for repayment ; as for example, money must be 
sought from the man to whom it was lent, although it 
may, by some means, have come into my hands. There is 
no benefit whose advantages do not extend to the receiver’s 
nearest friends, and sometimes even to those less intimately- 
connected with him ; yet we do not enquire whither the 
benefit has proceeded from him to whom it was first given, 
blit where it was first placed. You must demand repay- 
ment from the defendant himself personally. 

Se. Well, but I pray you, do you not say, “ you have 
preserved my son for me ; had he perished, I could not 
have survived him ? ” Bo you not owe a benefit for the life 
oifune whose safety you value above your own ? Moreover, 



ON BENEFITS. 


147 


CH. XIX.] 

should I save your sou’s life, you would fall down before 
my knees, and would pay vows to heaven as though you 
yourself had ‘been saved ; you would say, “ It makes no 
difference whether you have saved mine or me ; you have 
saved us both, yet me more than him.” Why do you 
say this, if you do not receive a benefit ? 

Ad. Because, if my son were to contract a loan, I should 
pay his creditor, yet I should not, therefore, be indebted to 
him ; or if my son were taken in adultery, I should blush, 
yet I should not, therefore, be an adulterer. I say that I 
am under an obligation to you for saving my son, not be- 
cause I really am, but because I am willing to constitute 
myself your debtor of my own free will. On the other 
hand I have derived from his safety the greatest possible 
pleasure and advantage, and I have escajied that most 
dreadful blow, the loss of my child. True, but we are not 
now discussing whether you have done me any good or 
not, but whether you have bestowed a benefit upon me ; 
for animals, stones, and herbs can do one good, but do not 
bestow benefits, which can only be given by one who wishes 
well to the receiver. Now you do not wish well to the 
father, but only to the sou; and sometimes you do not 
even know the father. So when you have said, “Have I 
not bestowed a benefit upon the father by saving the son?” 
you or^ht to meet this with, “ Have I, then, bestowed a 
benefit upon a father whom I do not know, whom 1 never 
thought of ? ” And what will you say when, as is some- 
times the case, you hate the father, and yet save his son ? 
Can you be thought to have bestowed a benefit ujmn one 
whom you hated most bitterly while you were bestowing 
it ? 

However, if I were to lay aside the bickering of dia- 
logue, and answer you as a lawyer, I should say that you 
ought to consider the intention of the giver, you must 
regard his benefit as bestowed upon the ixjrson upon whom 



148 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. T. 


lie meant to bestow it. If he did it in honour of the father, 
then the father received the benefit ; if he thought only of 
the son, then the father is not laid under any obligation by 
tlie benefit which was conferred upon the son, even though 
the father derives pleasure from it. Should he, however, 
have aai opportunity, he will himself wish to give you 
something, yet not as though he were forced to repay a 
debt, but rather as if he had grounds for beginning an 
exchange of favours. N’o return for a benefit ought to 
be demanded from the fatlier of the receiver ; if he does 
you any kindness in return for it, he should be regarded as 
a righteous man, but not as a grateful one. For there is 
no end to it ; if I bestow a benefit on the receiver’s father, 
do I likewise bestow it upon his mother, his grandfather, 
his maternal uncle, his children, relations, friends, slaves, 
and country ? Wliere, then, does a benefit begin to stop ? 
for there follows it this endless chain of people, to whom 
it is hard to assign bounds, because they join it by degrees j 
and are always crc'eping on towards it. 

XX. A common question is, “Two brothers are at 
variance. If I save the life of one, do I confer a benefit 
upon the other, who will be sorry that liis hated brother 
did not perish?” There can be no doubt that it is a 
benefit to do good to a man, even against that man’s will, 
just as he, who against his OAvn will does a man good, does 
not bestow a benefit upon him. “ Do you,” asks our adver- 
sary, “call that by which he is displeased and hurt a 
l>enefit ? ” Yes ; many benefits have a harsh and forbidding 
appearance, such as cutting or burning to cure disease, or 
confining witli chains. We must not consider whether a 
man is grieved at receiving a benefit, but whether he ought 
to rejoice : a coin is not bad because it is refused by a 
savage who is unacquainted with its proper stamp. A man 
receives a benefit even though he hates what is done, pro- 
vided that it does him good, and that the giver bestowed it 



CH. XX.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


149 


in order to do him good. It makes no difference if he 
receives a good thing in a had spirit. Consider the con- 
verse of this. Suppose that a man liates his brother, 
though it is to his advantage to liave a brother, and I kill 
this brother, this is not a benefit, though lie may say that 
it is, and be glad of it. Our most artful enemies are those 
whom we thank for the wrongs which they do us. 

“ I understand ; a thing which does good is a l)encfit, a 
thing which does harm is not a benefit. Now I will suggest 
to you an act wliich neither does good nor liarm, and yet 
is a benefit. Supjxise that I find the corpse of some one’s 
father in a wilderness, and bury it, then I certainly have 
clone him no good, for wliat difference could it ina.ke to 
him in what manner liis body decayed ? Nor have I done 
any good to his son, for what advantage does lie gain by 
my act? ” I will tell you what he gains. He has by iny 
means performed a solemn and necessary rite; I have per- 
formed a service for his father which he would have 
wished, nay, which it would have hceu liis duty to have 
performed himself. Yet this act is not a benefit, if T 
merely yielded to those lieelings of pity and kindliness 
which would make me bury any corpse whatever, but only 
if I recognized this body, and buried it, with the thouglit 
in my mind thiit I was doing this servic?e to the son ; but, 
by merely throwing earth over a dead stranger, I lay no 
one under an obligation for an act performed on general 
principles of humanity. 

It may he asked, “ Why are you so careful in incpiiring 
upon whom you bestow benefits, as tboogh some day you 
meant to demand repayment of them ? Some say that re- 
payment should never be demanded; and they give the 
following reasons. An unw^orthy man will not repay the 
benefit which he has received, even if it l>e demanded of 
him, while a worthy man will do so of his own accord. 
Consequently, if you have bestowed it upon a good man. 



150 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. t. 


wait ; do not outrage him by asking bim for it, as tbough 
of his own accord he never would repay it.^ If you have 
bestowed it upon a bad man, suffer for it, but do not spoil 
your benefit by turning it into a loan. Moreover the law, 
by not authorizing you, forbids you, by implication, to de- 
mand the repayment of a benefit.” All this is nonsense. 
As long as I am in no pressing need, as long as I am not 
forced by poverty, I will lose my benefits rather than ask 
for repayment ; but if the lives of my children were at 
stake, if ray wife were in danger, if my regard for the wel- 
fare of my country and for my own liberty were to force 
me to adopt a course which I disliked, I should overcome 
my delicacy, and openly declare that I had done all that 
I could to avoid the necessity of receiving help from an 
ungrateful man ; the necessity of obtaining repayment of 
one’s benefit will in the end overcome one’s delicacy about 
asking for it. In the next place, when I bestow a benefit 
u])0.u a good man, I do so with the intention of never de- 
manding repayment, except in case of absolute necessity. 

XXI. “ But,” argues he, “ by not authorizing you, the 
law forbids you to exact repayment.” There are many 
tilings which are not enforced by any law or process, but 
which the conventions of society, which are stronger than 
any law, compel us to observe. There is no law forbidding 
us to divulge our friend’s secrets ; there is no law which 
bids us keep faith even with an enemy ; pray what law is 
there which binds us to staud by what wc have promised 
There is none. Nevertheless I should remonstrate with one 
who did not ]?:eep a secret, and I should be indignant with 
one who pledged his word and broke it. “ But,” he argues, 
“ you are turning a benefit into a loan.” By no means, 
for I do not insist upon rejiayment, but only demand it ; 
nay, I do not even demand it, but remind my friend of it. 
Even tlie direst need will not bring me to apjdy for help to 
one with whom I should have to undergo a long struggle. 



CH. XXII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


151 


If there be any one so ungrateful that it is not sufficient to 
remind, him of his debt, I should pass him over, and think 
that he did" not deserve to be made grateful by force. A 
money-lender does not demand repayment from his debtors 
if he knows they have become bankrupt, and, to their 
shame, have nothing but shame left to lose ; and I, like 
him, should pass over those who are openly and obstinately 
ungrateful, and would demand repayment only from those 
who were likely to give it me, not from those from whom I 
should have to extort it by force. 

XXII. There are many who cannot deny that they have 
received a benefit, yet cannot return it — men who are not 
good enough to be termed grateful, nor yet bad enough 
to be termed ungrateful ; but who are dull and sluggish, 
backward debtors, though not defaulters. Such men as 
these I should not ask for repayment, but forcibly remind 
them of it, and, from a state of indifference, bring tliem 
back to their duty. They would at once reply, “For- 
give me ; I did not know, by Hercules, that you missed 
this, or I would have offered it of my own accord. I 
beg that you will not think me ungrateful j I remember 
your goodness to me.” Why need I hesitate to make 
such men as these better to themselves and to me? I 
would prevent any one from doing wrong, if I were able ; 
much more would I prevent a friend, both lest he should 
do wrong, and lest he should do wrong to me in particular. 
I bestow a second benefit upon him by not permitting him 
to be ungrateful ; and I should not reproach him harshly 
with what I had done for him, but should speak as gently 
as I could. In order to afford him an opportunity of re- 
turning my kindness, I should refresh his remembrance of it, 
and ask for a benefit: he would understand that I was ask- 
ing for rej)ayment. Sometimes I would make use of some- 
what severe language, if I had any hope that by it he 
might be amended ; though I would not irritate a hope- 



152 


ON BENEFITS. 


lessly ungrateful man, for fear that I might turn him into 
an enemy, If we spare the ungrateful even the affront of 
reminding them of their conduct, we shall fender tljem 
more backward in returning benefits ; and although some 
might be cured of their evil ways, and be made into good 
men, if their consciences were stung by remorse, yet we 
shall allow them to perish for want of a word of warning, 
with which a father sometimes corrects his son, a wife 
brings back to herself an erring husband, or a man stimu- 
lates the wavering fidelity of his friend. 

XXIII. To awaken some men, it is only necessary to stir 
them, not to strike them ; in like manner, with some men, 
the feeling of honour about returning a benefit is not 
extinct, but slumbering. Let us rouse it. “ Do not,” they 
will say, “ make the kindness you have done me into a 
wrong: for it is a wrong, if you do not demand some 
return from me, and so make me ungrateful. What if I 
do not Icnow what sort of repayment you wish for ? if I am 
so occupied by business, and my attention is so much 
diverted to other subjects that I have not been able to 
watch for an opportunity of serving you ? Point out to me 
what I can do for you, what you wish me to do. Why do 
you despair, before making a trial of me ? Why are you 
in such haste to lose both your benefit and your friend ? 
How can you tell whether I do not wish, or whether I do 
.not know how to repay you ; whether it be in intention or 
in opportunity that I am wanting? Make a trial of me.” 
I would therefore remind him of what I had done, without 
bitterness, not in public, or in a reproachful manner, but 
so that he may tliink that ho hijnself has remembered it 
rather than that it has been recalled to him. 

XXIY. One of Julius Caesar’s veterans was once plead- 
ing before him against his neighbours, and the cause was 
going against him. “Do you remember, general,” said ho, 
“ that in Spain you dislocated your ankle near the river 



ON BENEFITS. 


153 


CH. XXV.] 

Sucro ? ” ^ When Caesar said that he remembered it, he 
continued, “ Do you remember that when, during the ex- 
cessive heat, you wished to rest under a tree which afforded 
very little shade, as the ground in which that solitary tree 
grew was rough and rocky, one of your comrades spread 
his cloak under you ? " Caesar answered, “ Of course, I 
remember ; indeed, I was perishing with thirst ; and since 
I was unable to walk to the nearest spring, I would have 
crawled thither on my hands and knees, had not my com- 
rade, a brave and active man, brought me water in his 
lielniet.” “ Could you, then, my general, recognize thak 
man or that helmet?” Caesar replied that he could not 
remember the helmet, but that he could remember the 
man well ; and he added, I fancy in anger at being led 
away to this old story in the midst of a judicial enquiry, 
“ At any rate, you are not he.” “ I do not blame you, 
Caesar,” answered the man, “ for not recognizing me ; for 
when this took place, I was unwounded ; but afterwards, 
at the battle of Munda, my eye was struck out, and the 
bones of my skull crushed. Nor would you recognize that 
helmet if you saw it, for it was split by a Spanish sword.” 
Caesar would not permit this man to be troubled with law- 
suits, and presented his old soldier with the fields through 
which a village right of way had given rise to the dispute. 

XXV. In this case, what ought he to have done ? Be- 
cause his commander's memory was confused by a multi- 
tude of incidents, and because his position as the leader of 
vast armies did not permit him to notice individual sol- 
diers, ought the man not to have asked for a return for the 
benefit which he had conferred ? To act as he did is not so 
much to ask for a return as to take it when it lies in a con- 
venient position ready for us, although we have to stretch 
out our hands in order to receive it. I shall therefore ask 
for the return of a benefit, whenever I am either reduced 
‘ Xucar, 



154 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. T. 


to great straits, or wliere by doing so I shall act to the ad- 
vantage of him from whom I ask it. Tiberius Caesar, 
when some one addressed him with the words, “ Do you 
remember . . . . ? ” answered, before the man could men- 
tion any further proofs of fonner acquaintance, “ I do not 
remember what I was.” Why should it not be forbidden 
to demand of this man repayment of former favours ? He 
had a motive for forgetting them : he denied all knowledge 
of his friends and comrades, and wished men only to see, to 
think, and to speak of him as emperor. He regarded his old 
friend as an impertinent meddler. 

We ought to be even more careful to choose a favorable 
opportunity when we ask for a benefit to be repaid to us 
than when we ask for one to be bestowed upon us. We 
must be temperate in our language, so that the grateful may 
not take olfeuce, or the ungrateful pretend to do so. If we 
lived among wise men, it would be our duty to wait in 
silence until our benefits were returned. Yet even to wise 
men it would be better to give some hint of what our 
position required. We ask for help even from the gods 
themselves, from whose knowledge nothing is hid, although 
our prayers cannot alter their intentions towards us, but 
can only recall them to their minds. Homer’s priest,^ I 
say, recounts even to the gods his duteous conduct and his 
pious care of their altars. The second best form of virtue 
is to be willing and able to take advice.^ A horse who is 
docile and prompt to obey can be guided hither and thither 
by the slightest movement of the reins. Very few men are 
led by their own reason ; those who come next to the 
best are those who return to the right path in consequence 
of advice ; and these we must not deprive of their guide. 
When our eyes are covered they still possess sight ; but it is 
the light of day which, when admitted to them, summons 
them to perfonn their duty : tools lie idle, unless the work- 
‘ 11. i. ^9 sqq. “ Up. 291. 



ON BENEFITS. 


155 


CH, XXV.j 

man nses them to tahe part in his work. Similarly men’s 
minds contain a good feeling, which, however, lies torpid, 
either through luxury and disuse, or through ignorance of 
its duties. This we ought to render useful, and not to get 
into a passion with it, and leave it in its wrong doing, but 
bear with it patiently, just as schoolmasters bear patiently 
with the blunders of forgetful scholars; for as by the 
prompting of a word or two their memory is often recalled 
to the text of the speech which tliey have to repeat, so 
men’s goodwill can be brought to return kindness by re- 
minding them of it. 



Book VL 


I. 

T HEEE are some tilings, my most excellent LiLeralis, 
which lie completely outside of our actual life, and 
which we only inquire into in order to exercise our intel- 
lects, while others both give us pleasure while we are dis- 
covering them, and are of use when discovered. I will 
yilace all those in your hands ; you, at your own discretion, 
may order them either to be investigated thoroughly, or to 
be reserved, and bo used as agreeable interludes. Something 
will be gained even by those which you dismiss at once, for 
it is advantageous even to know what subjects are not 
worth learning. I shall be guided, therefore, by your face : 
according to its expression, I shall deal with some questions 
at greater length, and drive others out of court, and put an 
end to theiii at once. 

II. It is a question whether a benefit can be taken 
away from one by force. Some say that it cannot, be- 
cause it is not a thing, but an act. A gift is not the same 
as the act of giving, any more than a sailor is the same as 
the act of sailing. A sick man and a disease are not the 
same thing, although no one can be ill without disease ; 
and, similarly, a benefit itself is one thing, and what any 
of us receive through a benefit is another. The benefit 
itself is incorporeal, and never becomes invalid ; but its 
subject-matter changes owners, and passes from hand to 
hand. So, when you take away from anyone what you 
have given him, you take away the subject-matter only of 



CH. in,] 


ON BENEFITS. 


157 


the benefit, not the benefit itself. Nature herself cannot 
recall what she has given. She may cease to bestow bene- 
fits, but cannot take them away : a man who dies, yet has 
lived ; a man who becomes blind, nevertheless has seen. 
She can cut off her blessings from us in the future, but she 
cannot prevent our having enjoyed them in the past. We 
are frequently not able to enjoy a benefit for long, but the 
benefit is not thereby destroyed. Let Nature struggle as 
hard as she please, she cannot give herself retrospective 
action. A man may lose his house, his money, his pro- 
perty — everything to which the name of benefit can be 
given — yet the benefit itself will remain firm and unmoved ; 
no power can prevent his benefactor’s having bestowed 
them, or his having received them. 

III. I think that a fine passage in Eabirius’s poem, 
where M. Antonins, seeing his fortune deserting him, 
nothing left him except the privilege of dying, and even 
that only on condition that he used it promptly, exclaims, 

What I have given, that I now possess! 

How much he might have possessed, had he chosen ! These 
are riches to be depended upon, which through all the 
turmoil of human life will remain steadfast ; and the 
greater they are, the less envy they will attract. Why are 
you sparing of your property, as though it were yonr own ? 
You are but the manager of it. All those treasures, which 
make you swell with pride, and soar above mere mortals, 
till you forget the weakness of your nature ; all that which 
you lock up in iron-grated treasuries, and guard in arms, 
which you win from, other men with their lives, and defend 
at the risk of your own; for which you launch fleets to 
dye the sea with blood, and shake the walls of cities, 
not knowing what arrows fortune may be preparing for 
you behind your back ; to gain which you have so often 
violated all the ties of relationship, of friendship, and of 



158 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be, vr.. 


colleaguesliip, till tlie wliole world lies crushed between 
the two combatants : all these are not yours ; they are a 
kind of deposit, which is on the point of passing into other 
hands : your enemies, or your heirs, who are little better, 
will seize upon them. “How,” do you ask, “can you make 
them your own?” “By giving them away.” Do, then, 
what is best for your own interests, and gain a sure 
enjoyment of them, which cannot be taken from you, 
making them at once more certainly yours, and more 
honorable to you. That which you esteem so highly, that 
l)y which you think that you are made rich and powerful, 
owns but the shabby title of house,” “ slave,” or “ money;” 
but when you have given it away, it becomes a benefit. 

IV. “ You admit,” says our adversary, “ that we some' 
times are under no obligation to him from whom we have 
received a benefit. In that case it has been taken by force.” 
Nay, there are many things which would cause us to cease 
to feel gratitude for a benefit, not because the benefit has 
been taken from me, but because it has been spoiled. 
Suppose that a man has defended me in a lawsuit, but has 
forcibly outraged my wife; he has not taken away the 
benefit which he conferred upon me, but by balancing it 
with an equivalent wrong, he has set me free from my 
debt ; indeed, if he has injured me more than he had pre- 
viously benefited me, he not only puts an end to my 
gratitude, but makes me free to revenge myself upon him, 
and to complain of him, when the wrong outweighs the 
benefit ; in such a case the benefit is not taken away, but is 
overcome. Why, are not some fathers so cruel and so wicked 
that it is right and proper for their sons to turn away from 
them, and disown them ? Yet, pray, have they taken away 
the life which they gave? No, but their unnatural conduct 
in later years has destroyed all the gratitude which was 
due to them for their original benefit. In these cases it is 
not a benefit itself, but the gratitude owing for a benefit 



CH. IV.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


159 


wliicli is talren away, and the result is, not that one does 
not possess the benefit, but that one is not laid under any 
obligation by it. It is as though a man were to lend me 
money, and then burn my house down ; the advantage of 
the loan is balanced by the damage wliieh he has caused : 
I do not repay him, and yet I am not in his debt. In like 
manner any one who may have acted kindly and generously 
to me, and who afterwards has shown himself haughty, 
insulting, and cruel, places me in just the same position 
as though I never had received anything from him : he has 
murdered his own benefits. Though the lease may remain 
in force, still a man does not continue to be a tenant if his 
landlord tramples down his crops, or cuts down his 
orchard ; their contract is at an end, not because the land- 
lord has received the rent which was agreed upon, but be- 
cause he has made it impossible that he should receive it. 
So, too, a creditor often has to pay money to his debtor, 
should he have taken more property from him in other 
transactions than he claims as having lent him, The judge 
does not sit merely to decide between debtor and creditor, 
when he says, “ You did lend the man money ; but then, 
what followed ? You have driven away his cattle, you have 
murdered his slave, you have in your possession plate which 
you have not paid for. After valuing what each has received, 
I order you, who came to this court as a creditor, to leave it 
as a debtor.” In like manner a balance is struck between 
benefits and injuries. In many cases, I repeat, a benefit is 
not taken away from him who receives it, and yet it lays 
him under no obligation, if the giver has repented of giving 
it, called himself unhappy because he gave it, sighed or 
made a wry face while he gave it ; if he thought that he 
was throwing it away rather than giving it, if he gave it to 
please himself, or to please any one except me, the receiver ; 
if he persistently makes himself offensive by boasting of 
what he has done, if he brags of his gift everywhere, and 



160 ON BENEFITS. [bK. VI. 

makes it a misery to me, then indeed the benefit remains 
in my hands, but I owe him nothing for it, just as sums 
of money to which a creditor has no legal right are owed 
to him, but cannot be claimed by him. 

V. Though you have bestowed a benefit upon me, yet 
you have since done me a wrong; the benefit demandetl 
gratitude, the wrong required vengeance ; the result is that 
I do not owe you gratitude, nor do you owe me compensa- 
tion — each is cancelled by the other. When we say, “ I 
returned him his benefit,” we do not mean that we restored 
to him the very thing which we had received, but some- 
thing else in its place. To return is to give back one thing 
instead of another, because, of course, in all repayment it 
is not the thing itself, but its equivalent which is returned. 
We are said to have retuimed money even though we count 
out gold pieces instead of silver ones, or even if no money 
passes between us, but the transaction be effected verbally 
by the assignment of a debt. 

I think i see you say, “ You are wasting your time ; of 
what use is it to me to know whether what I do not owe to 
another still remains in my hands or not? These are like 
the ingenious subtleties of the lawyers, who declare that 
one cannot acquire an inheritance by prescription, but can 
only acquire those things of which the inheritance con- 
sists, as though there were any difference between the 
heritage and the things of which it consists. Eather decide 
this point for me, which may be of use. If the same man 
confers a benefit upon me, and afterwards does me a 
wrong, is it my duty to return the benefit to him, and 
nevertheless to avenge myself upon him, having, as it were, 
two distinct accounts open with him, or to mix them both 
together, and do nothing, leaving the benefit to be wiped 
out by the injury, the injury by the benefit? I see that 
the former course is adopted by the law of the land ; you 
know best what the law may be among you Stoic philoso- 



CH. VL] 


ON BENEFITS. 


161 


pliers in such a case. I suppose that you keep the action 
which I bring against another distinct from that which he 
brings against me, and the two processes are not merged 
into one ? For instance, if a man entrusts me with money, 
and afterwards robs me, I shall bring an action against 
him for theft, and he will bring one against me for unlaw- 
fully detaining his property ? ” 

VI. The cases which you have mentioned, my Liberalis, 
come under well-established laws, which it is necessary for 
us to follow. One law cannot be merged in another : each 
one proceeds its own way. There is a particular action 
which deals with deposits just as there is one which deals 
with theft. A benefit is subject to no law; it depends 
upon my own arbitration. I am at liberty to contrast the 
amount of good or harm which any one may liave done nui, 
and then to decide which of us is indebted to the 
other. In legal processes we ourselves liave no power, we 
must go whither they lead us ; in the case of a benefit the 
supreme power is mine, I pronounce sentence. Consequently 
I do not separate or distinguish between benefits and 
wrongs, but send them before the same judge. Unless I 
did so, you would bid me love and hate, give thanks and 
make complaints at the same time, which human nature 
does not admit of. I would rather compare the benefit and 
the injury with one another, and see whether there were 
any balance in my favour. If anybody puts linos of other 
writing upon my manuscript he conceals, though he does 
not take away, the letters which were there before, and in 
like manner a wrong coming after a benefit does not allow 
it to be seen. 

VII. Your face, by which I have agreed to be guided, 
now becomes wrinkled with frowns, as though I were stray- 
ing too widely from the subject. You seem to say to me : 

“ Why steer to seaward ? Hither bend thy course, 

Hug close the shore , , . ” 

M 



162 ON BENEFITS. [bK. VL 

I do Inig it as close as possible. So now, if yon think that 
we have dwelt sufficiently upon this point, let us proceed to 
the consideration of the next — that is, whether we are at all 
indebted to any one who does us good without wishing to 
do so. I might have expressed this more clearly, if it were 
not right that the question should be somewhat obscurely 
stated, in order that by the distinction immediately follow- 
ing it may be shown that we mean to investigate the case 
both of him who does us good against his will, and that of 
him who does us good without knowing it. That a man 
who does us good by acting under compulsion does not 
tliereby lay us under any obligation, is so clear, that no 
words are needed to prove it. Both this question, and any 
other of the like character which may be raised, can easily 
be settled if in each case we bear in mind that, for any-* 
thing to be a benefit, it must reach us in the first place 
through some thought, and secondly through the thought 
of a friend and well-wisher. Therefore we do not feel any 
gratitude towards rivers, albeit they may bear large ships, 
alford ail aiiqile aud unvarying stream for the convey- 
ance of merchandise, or flow beauteously and full of fish 
through fertile fields. No one conceives himself to be in- 
debted for a benefit to the Nile, any more than he would 
owe it a grudge if its waters flooded his fields to excess, 
and retired more slowly than usual ; the wind does not 
bestow benefits, gentle and favorable though it may he, 
nor does wholesome and useful food ; for he who would 
bestow a benefit upon me, must not only do me good, but 
must wish to do so. No obligation can therefore be incurred 
towards dumb animals; yet how many men have been 
saved from peril by the swiftness of a horse !— nor yet 
towards trees — yet how many sufferers from summer heat 
have been sheltered by the thick foliage of a tree ! What 
difference can it make, whether I have profited by the act 
of one who did not know that he was doing me good, or 



CH. vm,] 


ON BENEFITS. 


1(53 


cue wlio could not know it, when in each case the will to 
do me good was wanting ? You might as well bid me be 
grateful to a ship, a carnage, or a lance for saving me from 
danger, as bid me be grateful to a man who may have done 
me good by chance, but with no more intention of doing me 
good than those things could have. 

VIII. Some men may receive benefits without knowing 
it, but no mail can bestow them without knowing if . 
Many sick persons have been cured by cbance cir<aim- 
stauces, which do not therefore become sjiecific remedies ; 
as, for instance, one man was restored to health by falling 
into a river during very cold weather, as another was set, 
free from a quartan fever hy means of a flogging, because 
the sudden terror turned his attention iuto a new channel, 
so that the dangerous hours passed unnoticed. Yet tioik'. 
of these are remedies, even though they may have been 
successful ; and in like manner some men do us good, 
though they are unwilling — indeed, because they are un- 
willing to do so — yet we need not feel grateful to tliera as 
though we had received a benefit from them, beca.use for- 
tune has changed the evil which they intended into good. 
Do you suppose that I am indebted to a man who strikes 
my enemy with a blow which he aimed at me, who would 
liave injured me had he not missed his mark? It often 
happens that by openly perjuring himself a man makes 
even trustworthy witnesses disbelieved, and renders his in- 
tended victim an object of compassion, as though he were 
being ruined by a conspiracy. Some have been saved by 
tlie very power which was exerted to crush them, and 
judges who would have condemned a man by law, have re- 
fused to condemn him by favour. Yet they did not confer 
a benefit upon the accused, although they rendered him a 
service, because we must consider at what the dart was 
aimed, not what it hits, and a benefit is distingnislied from 
an injury not by its result, but by the spirit in wliicb it was 



164 . 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. VI. 


meant. By contradicting himself, by irritating the judge 
by his arrogance, or by rashly allowing his whole case to 
depend upon the testimony of one witness, my opponent 
may have saved my cause. I do not consider whether his 
mistakes l)enefited me or not, for he wished me ill. 

IX. In order that I may be grateful, I must wish to do 
what my benefactor must have wished in order that he 
might bestow a benefit. Can anything be more unjust 
than to bear a grudge against a person who may have 
trodden upon one’s foot in a crowd, or splashed one, or 
pushed one the way which one did not wish to go? Yet 
it was by his act that we were injured, and we only refrain 
from complaining of him, because he did not know what he 
was doing. The same reason makes it possible for men to 
do us good without conferring benefits upon us, or to harm 
us without doing us wrong, because it is intention which 
distinguishes our friends from our enemies. How many 
have been saved from service in the array by sickness ! 
Some men have been saved from sharing the fall of their 
house, by being ]>rought up upon tlieir recognizances to a 
court of law by their enemies ; some have been saved by ship- 
wreck from falling into the hands of pirates ; yet we do not 
feel grateful to such things, because chance has no feeling 
of the service it renders, nor are we grateful to our enemy, 
though his lawsuit, while it harassed and detained us, still 
saved our lives. Nothing can be a benefit which does not 
proceed from good will, and which is not meant as such by 
the giver. If any one does me a service, without knowing 
it, I am under no obligation to him; should he do so, 
meaning to injure me, I shall imitate his conduct. 

X. Let us turn our attention to the first of these. Can 
you desire me to do anything to express my gratitude to a 
man who did nothing in order to confer a benefit upon me ? 
Passing on to the next, do you wish me to show my grati- 
tude to such a man, and of my own will to return to him 



Cn. XI.] ON BENEFITS. ]€)5 

wliat I received from him against his will ? What am I to 
say of the third, he who, meaning to do aninjary,hlun(lers 
into bestowing a benefit ? That you should liave wished 
to confer a benefit upon me is not sufficient to render me 
grateful ; but that you should have wislied not to do so is 
enough to set me free from any obligation to you. A mere 
wish does not constitute a benefit ; and just as the best and 
lieartiest wisli is not a benefit when fortune prevents its 
being carried into effect, neither is what fortune bestows 
upon us a benefit, unless good wishes preceded it. In order 
to lay me under an obligation, you must not merely do me 
a service, but you must do so intentionally. 

XI. Cleanthes makes use of the following example : — “ I 
sent,” says he, “ two slaves to loolc for Plato and bring him 
to me from the Academy. One of them searched through 
tlie whole of the colonnade, and every other place in which 
he thought that he was likely to be found, and r(;turned 
home alike weary and unsuccessful ; the other sat down 
among the audience of a mountebank close by, and, while 
amusing himself in the society of other slaves like a care- 
less vagabond as he was, found Plato, without seeking for 
him, as he happened to pass that wa.y. We ought,” says 
he, “ to praise that slave who, as far as lay in his power, did 
what he was ordered, and we ought to punish the other 
whose laziness turned out so fortunate.” It is goodwill- 
alone which does one real service ; let us then consider 
under what conditions it lays us under obligations. It is 
not enough to wish a man well, without doing him good ; 
nor is it enough to do him good without wishing him well. 
Suppose that some one wished to give me a present, but 
did not give it ; I have his good will, but I do not have his 
benefit, which consists of subject matter and goodwill to- 
gether. I owe nothing to one who wished to lend me 
money but did not do so, and in like manner I shall be the 
friend of one who wished but was not able to bestow a 



ON BENEFITS, 


[bk. VI. 


1()6 

benefit upon me, but I shall not be under any obligation to 
liim. I also shall wish to bestow something upon him, 
even as he did upon me ; but if fortune be more favor- 
able to me than to him, and I suceeed in bestowing some- 
thing upon liim, my doing so will be a benefit bestowed 
open him, not a repavment out of gratitude for what he 
did for me. It will become his duty to be grateful to me ; 
I shall have begun the interchange of benefits ; the series 
nnist be counted from my act, 

XII. I already understand what you wish to ash ; there 
is no need for you to say anything, your countenance 
sjxjalvs for you, “ If any one does us good for his own 
sake, are we,” you ash, “ under an obligation to him ? ■ I 
often hear you complain that there are some things which 
men make use of themselves, but which they put down to 
theaccountof others.” 1 will tell you, my Libcralis; but first 
let me distinguish between the two parts of your question, 
and separate what is fair from what is unfair. It makes a 
great difference whether any one bestows a benefit upon us 
for bis own sake, or whether he does so partly for his own 
sake and partly for ours. He who looks only to his own 
interests, and who does us good because he cannot other- 
wise make a profit for himself, seems to me to be like the 
farmer who provides winter and summer fodder for his 
iiucks, or like the man who feeds up the captives whom he 
has bought in order that they may fetch a better price in 
the slave market, or who crams and curry-combs fat oxen 
for sale ; or like the keej^er of a school of arms, who takes 
great pains in exercising aud equipping his gladiators. As 
Oleanthes says, there is a great difference between benefits 
and trade. 

XIII. On the other hand, I am not so unjust as to feel 
no gratitude to a man, because, while helping me, he helped 
himself also ; for I do not insist upon his consulting my 
interests to the exclusion of his own— nay, I should prefer 



ON BENEFITS. 


CH. XIII.] 


1()7 


that the benefit which I receive may be of even greater 
advantage to the giver, provided that he thought of us both 
when giving it, and meant to divide it between me and 
himself. Even should he possess the larger portion of it, 
still, if he admits me to a share, if he meant it for botli of 
us, I am not only unjust but ungrateful, if I do not rejoice 
in what has benefited me benefiting him also. It is the 
essence of spitefulness to say that nothing can be a benefit 
which does not cause some inconvenience to the giver. 

As for him who bestows a benefit for his own sake, I 
should say to him, “ You have made use of me, and how 
can you say that you have bestowed a benefit upon me, 
rather than I upon you ? ” “ Suppose," answers he, “ that 
I cannot obtain a public office except by ransoming ten 
citizens out of a great number of captives, will you owe me 
nothing for setting you free from slavery and bondage f 
Yet I shall do so for my own sake." To this I should 
answer, “ You do this partly for my sake, partly for your 
own. It is for your own sake that you ransom captives, 
but it is for my sake that you ransom me ; for to serve 
your purpose it would be enough for you to ransom any 
one. I am therefore your debtor, not for ransoming me, 
but for choosing me, since you might have attained tin; 
same result by ransoming some one else instead of mo. 
You divide the advantages of the act between yourself and 
me, and you confer upon me a benefit by which both of us 
profit. What you do entirely for my sake is, that you 
choose me in preference to others. If therefore you were 
to be made praetor for ransoming ten captives, and there 
were only ten of us captives, none of us would be under 
any obligation to you, because there is nothing for which 
you can ask any one of us to give you credit apart from 
your own advantage. I do not regard a benefit jealously 
and wish it to be given to myself alone, but I wish to have 
a share in it." 



168 


OW BENEFITS. 


[BK. VI. 


XIV. “ Well, then,’’ says he, “ suppose that I were to 
order all your names to he put into a ballot-hox, and that 
your name was drawn among those who were to be ran- 
somed, would you owe me nothing ? ” Yes, I should owe 
you something, but very little : how little, I will explain to 
ydli. By so doing you do something for my sate, in that 
you grant me tlie chance of being ransomed ; I owe to 
fortune that my name -was drawn, all I owe to you is that 
my name could be drawn. You have given me the means 
of obtaining your benefit. For the greater part of that 
benefit I am indebted to fortune ; that I could be so in- 
debted, I owe to you. 

I shall take no notice whatever of those whose benefits 
are bestowed in a mercenary spii'it, who do not consider to 
wdiom, but upon what terms they give, whose benefits are 
entirely selfish. Suppose that some one sells me corn ; I 
cannot live unless I buy it ; yet I do not owe my life to 
him because I have bought it. I do not consider how 
essential it was to me, and that I could not live without it ; 
but how little thanks are due for it, since I could not have 
hiid it without paying for it, and since the merchant who 
imported it did not consider how much good he would do 
me, but how much he would gain for himself. I owe 
nothing for what I have bought and paid for. 

XV. “According to this reasoning,” says my opponent, 
“you would say that you owe nothing to a physician 
beyond his paltry fee, nor to your teacher, because you 
have paid him some money ; yet these persons are all held 
very dear, and are very much respected.” In answer to 
this I should urge that some things are of greater value 
than the price which we j)ay for them. You buy of a phy- 
sician life and good health, the value of which cannot be 
estimated in money; from a teacher of the liberal sciences 
you buy the education of a gentleman and mental culture ; 
therefore you pay these persons the price, not of what they 



CH, xy.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


169 


give us, but of tlicir trouble in giviog it ; you pay them for 
devoting their attention to us, for disregarding their own 
affairs to attend to us : they receive the price, not of their 
services, but of the expenditure of their time. Yet this 
may be more truly stated in another way, which I will at 
once lay before you, having first pointed out how the above 
may be confuted. Our adversary would say, “If some 
things are of greater value than the price which we pay for 
them, then, though you may have bought them, you still 
owe me something more for them.” I answer, in the first 
place, what does their real value matter, since the buyer and 
seller have settled the price between them ? Next., I did not 
buy it at its own price, but at yours. “ It is,” you say, “worth 
more than its sale price.” True, but it cannot be sold for 
more. The price of everything varies according to circuju- 
stances ; after you have well praised your wares, they are 
worth only the highest price at which you can sell them ; 
a man who buys things cheap is not on that account under 
any obligation to the seller. In the next place, even if 
they are worth more, there is no generosity in your letting 
them go for less, since the price is settled by custom and 
the rate of the market, not by the uses and powers of the 
merchandise. What would you state to be the proper 
payment of a man who crosses the seas, holding a true 
course through the midst of the waves after the land has 
sunk out of sight, who foresees coming storing, and sud- 
■ denly, when no one expects danger, orders vsails to be furled, 
yards to be lowered, and the crew to stand at their posts 
ready to meet the fury of the unex])ected gale P and yet the 
price of such great skill is fully paid for by the passage 
money. At what sum can you estimate the value of a 
lodging in a wilderness, of a shelter in the rain, of a bath 
or fire in cold weather ? Yet I know on what terms I shall 
be supplied with these when I enter an inn. How much 
the man does for us who props our house when it is about 



170 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. VI. 


to fall, and who, with a shill beyond belief, suspends in the 
air a block of building which has begun to crack at the 
foundation; yet we can contract for underpinning at a 
fixed and cheap rate. The city wall keeps us safe from our 
enemies, and from sudden inroads of brigands ; yet it is 
well known how much a day a smith would earn for erect- 
ing towers and scaffoldings^ to provide for the public 
safety. 

XVT. I might go on for ever collecting instances to 
])r()ve that valuable thmgs are sold at a low price. What 
then ? why is it that I owe something extra both to my 
physician and to my teacher, and that I do not acquit my- 
self of all obligation to them by paying them their fee ? It 
is because they pass from physicians and teachers into 
friends, and lay us under obligations, not by the skill 
which they sell to us, but by kindly and familiar good will. 
If m.y physician does no more than feel my pulse and class 
me among those whom he sees in his daily rounds, pointing 
out what I ought to do or to avoid without any personal 
interest, then I owe him no more than his fee, because he 
views me with the eye not of a friend, but of a commander.* 
Neither have I any reason for loving my teacher, if he has 
regarded me merely as one of the mass of his scholars, and 
has not thought me worthy of taking especial pains with by 
myself, if he has never fixed his attention upon me, and if 
when he discharged his knowledge on the public, I might 
be said rather to have picked it up than to have learnt it ‘ 
from him. What then is our reason for owing them much ? 
It is, not that what they have sold us is worth more than 
we paid for it, but that they have given something to us 
personally. Suppose that my physician has spent more 

* See Viollet-le-Duc’s “ Dietionnaire d’ Architecture,” articles “ Archi- 
tecture Militaire ” and “ Hoards,” for the probable meaning of “ Pro- 
jmgiuicula.” 

“ I read “ Non tannpiam amicus videt sed tamquam iniperator” 



CH. XVII,] 


ON BENEFITS. 


171 


consideration upon my case than was professionally neces- 
sary ; that it was for me, not for his own credit, that he 
feared ; that he was not satisfied with pointing out reme- 
dies, hut himself apphed them, that he sat by my bed- 
side among my anxious friends, and came to see me at 
the crises of my disorder ) that no service was too trouble- 
some or too disgusting for him to perform ; that he did 
not hear my groans unmoved ; that among the numbers 
who called for him I was liis favourite case ; and that he 
gave the others only so much time as his care of my 
health permitted him : I should feel obliged to such a 
man not as to a physit;ian, but as to a friend . Suppose again 
that my teacher endured labour and weariness in instruct- 
ing me ; that he taught me sometJiing more tha,n is taught 
by all masters alike ; that he roused niy better feelings l>y 
his encouragement, and that at one time he would raise 
my spirits by praise, and at another warn me to shake 
olf slothfuluess : that he laid his hand, as it were, upon my 
latent and torpid powers of intellect and drew them out 
into the light of day ; that he did not stingily dole out to 
me what he knew, in order that he might be wanted for a 
longer time, but was eager, if possible, to pour all his 
learning into me ; then I am ungrateful, if I do not love 
him as much as I love my nearest relatives and my dearest 
frh'iids. 

XVII. V^e give something additional even to those who 
•teach the meanest trades, if their efforts appear to be 
extraordinary ; we bestow a gratuity upon pilots, upon 
workmen who deal with the commonest materials and 
hire themselves out by the day. In the noblest arts, how- 
ever, those which either preserve or beautify our lives, a 
man would be ungrateful who thinks he owes the artist no 
more than he bargained for. Besides this, the teaching of 
such learning as we have spoken of blends mind with 
mind} now when this takes place, both in the case of 



ON BENEFITS. 


172 


[bK. VI. 


tlie physician and of the teacher the price of his work is 
paid, hut that of his mind remains owing. 

XVni. Plato once crossed a river, and as the ferryman 
did not ask him for anything, ho supposed that he had let 
him pass free out of respect, and said that the ferryman 
had laid Plato under an obligation. Shortly afterwards, 
seeing the ferryman take one person after another across 
the river with the same pains, and without charging 
anything, Plato declared that the ferryman had not laid 
him under an obligation. If you wish me to be grateful 
for what you give, you must not merely give it to me, but 
show that you mean it specially for me ; you cannot malce 
any claim upon one for having given him what you fling 
away broad- cast among the crowd. What then ? shall I 
owe you nothing for it? Nothing, as an individual; I will 
pay, when ihe rest of mankind do, what I owe no more than 
they. 

XIX. “Do yon. say,” inquires my opponent, “that he 
who carries me gratis in a boat across the river Po, does 
not bestow any benefit upon me ? ” I do. He does me some 
good, but be dues not bestow a benefit upon me ; for he 
does it for his own sake, or at any rate not for mine ; in 
short, he himself does not imagine that lie is bestowing a 
benefit upon me, but does it for the credit of the State, or 
of the neighbourhood, or of himself, and expects some re- 
turn for doing so, different from what he would receive 
from individual passengers. “Well,” asks my opponent,, 
“ if the emperor were to grant the franchise to all the Gauls, 
or exemption from taxes to all the Spaniards, would each 
individual of them owe him nothing on that account?” 
Of course he would : but he would be indebted to him, not 
as having personally received a benefit intended for himself 
alone, but as a partaker in one conferred upon his nation. 
He would argue, “ The emjieror had no thought of me at 
the time when he benefited us all ; he did not care to give 



ON BENEFITS, 


173 


CH. XX.] 

me tlie francliise separately, he did not fix his attention upon 
me; why then should I be grateful to one who did not have 
me in his mind when he was thinking of doing what he did ? 
In answer to this, I say that when he thought of doing good 
to all the Gauls, he thought of doing good to me also, for 
I was a Gaul, and he included me under my national, if 
not under my personal appellation. In like manner, I 
should feel grateful to Mm, not as for a personal, l)ut for 
a general benefit ; being only one of the people, I should 
regard the debt of gratitude as incurred, not by myself, 
but by my country, and should not pay it myself, but only 
coni^ribute my share towards doing so. I do not call a man 
my creditor because he has hnt- money to my country, nor 
should I include that money in a schedule of my debts 
were I either a candidate for a public office, or a defendant 
in the courts ; yeti would pay my share towards extinguish- 
ing such a debt. Similarly, I deny that I am laid under 
an obligation by a gift bes1;owcd upon my entire nation, 
because althougli the giver gave it to me, yet he did not 
do so for my sake, but gave it without knowing whether he 
was giving it to me or not : nevertheless I should feel that 
I owed so'mething for the gift, becaT|se it did reach me, 
though not directly. To lay me under an obligation, a 
thing must be done for my sake alone. 

XX. “ According to this,” argues our opponent, “ you 
are under no obligation to the sun or the moon ; for they 
do not move for your sake alone.” Xo, but since they 
move with the object of preserving the balance of the uni- 
verse, they move for my sake also, seeing that I am a frac- 
tion of the universe. Besides, our position and theirs is 
not the same, for he who does me good in order that he 
may by my means do good to himself, does not bestow a 
benefit upon me, because he merely makes use of me as an 
instrument for his own advantage ; whereas the sun and 
the moon, even if they do us good for their own sakes, still 



174 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. VI. 


cannot do good to us in order that by our means tky may 
do good Ix) themselves, for what is there which we can 
bestow upon them ? 

XXI. “ I should be sure,” replies he, “that the sun and 
the moon wished to do us good, if they were able to refuse 
to do 80; but they caimot help moving as they do. In 
short, let them stop and discontinue their work.” 

See now, in how many ways this argiunent may be refuted . 
One who cannot refuse to do a thing may nevertheless 
wish to do it ; indeed there is no greater proof of a fixed 
desire to do anything, than not to be able to alter one’s 
determination. A good man cannot leave undone what 
he does : for unless he does it he will not be a good man. 
Is a good man, then, not able to bestow a benefit, because 
ho does wliat he ought to do, and is not able not to do what 
he ought' to do ? Besides this, it malies a great difference 
whether you say, “ He is not able not to do this, l)ecause 
he is forced to do it,” or “ He is not able to wish not to do 
it ; ” for, if he could not help doing it, then I am not indebted 
for it to him, but to tJie person who forced him to do it ; 
if he could not help wishing for it because he had nothing 
l>etter to wish for, then it is he who forces himself to do it, 
and in tliis case the debt which as acting under compulsion 
he could not claim, is due to him as compelling himself. 

“ Let the sun and moon cease to wish to benefit us,” says 
our adversary. I answer, “ Remember what has been said. 
Who can be so crazy as to refuse the name of free-will to 
that which has no danger of ceasing to act, and of adopting 
the opposite course, since, on the contrary, he whose wiU is 
fixed for ever, must l)e thought to wish more earnestly than 
any one else. Surely if he, who may at any moment change 
his mind, can be said to wish, we must not deny the exis- 
tence of will in a being whose nature does not admit of 
change of mind. 

XXII. “Well,” says he “ let them stop, if it be possible.” 



cii. xxm.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


175 


Wliat you say is this;— Let all those hearciily bodies, 
placed as they are at vast distances from each other, and 
arranged to preserve the balance of the universe, leave their 
appointed posts r let sudden confusion arise, so that con- 
stellations may collide with constellations, that the esta- 
blished harmony of all things may be destroyed and tlie 
works of God be shaken into ruin ; let the V7]iole frame of 
the rapidly moving lieavonly bodies abandon in mid car(*er 
those movements wliich we were assured would endure for 
ages, and let those which now by their regular advance and 
retreat keep the world at a moderate temperature, be in- 
stantly consumed by fire, so that instead of the infinite 
variety of the seasons all may be reduced to one uniform 
condition ; let fire rage everywhere, followed by dull niglit. 
and let the bottomless abyss swallow up all the gods.” Is it 
worth while to destroy all this merely in order to refute you ? 
Even though you do not wish it, they do you good, and 
they wheel in their courses for your sake, though tlieii’ 
motion may be due to some earlier and more important 
cause. 

XXni. Besides this, the gods act under no external 
constraint,, but their own will is a law to them for all 
time. They have established an order which is not to be 
changed, and consequently it is impossible that they should 
appear to be likely to do anything against their will, 'since 
they wish to continue doing whatever they cannot cease 
from doing, and they never regret their original decision. 
No doubt it is impossible for them to stop short, or to 
desert to the other side, but it is so for no other reason 
than that their own force holds them to their purpose. 
It is from no weakness that they persevere ; no, they have 
no mind to leave the best course, and by this it is fated 
that they should proceed. When, at the time of the 
original creation, they arranged the entire universe, they 
paid attention to us as well as to the rest, and took 



176 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. vr. 


tliouglit about the human race; and for this reason -we 
cannot suppose that it is merely for their own pleasure 
that they move in their orbits and display their work, 
since we also are a part of that work. We are, therefore, 
under an obligation to the sun and moon and the rest of 
the heavenly host, because, although they may rise in 
order to l)e8tow more imj)ortant benefits than those which 
we receive from them, yet they do bestow these upon 
us as they pass on their way to greater things. Besides 
tliis, they assist us of set purpose, and, therefore, lay us 
under an obligation, because we do not in their case 
stumble by chance upon a benefit bestowed by one who 
knew not what he was doing, but they knew that we should 
receive from them the advantages which we do ; so that, 
though they may have some higher aim, though the result 
of their movements may be something of greater import- 
ance than the preservation of the human race, yet from the 
beginning thought has been directed to our comforts, and 
tlie scheme of the world has been arranged in a fashion 
which proves that our interests were neitlier their least 
nor last concern. It is our duty to show filial love for our 
parents, although many of them had no thought of children 
when they married. Not so with the gods : they cannot 
but have known what they were doing when they furnished 
mankind with food and comforts. Those for whose advan- 
tage so much was created, could not have been created 
without design. Nature conceived the idea of us before 
she formed us, and, indeed, we are no such trifling piece of 
work as could have fallen from her hands unheeded. See 
how great privileges she has bestowed upon us, how far 
beyond the human race the empire of mankind extends ; 
consider how widely she allows us to roam, not having 
restricted us to the land alone, but permitted us to tra- 
verse every part of herself ; consider, too, the audacity of 
our intellect, the only one which knows of the gods or seeks 



CH, XXIV.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


177 


for them, and how we can raise our mind hi^'h above the 
earth, and commune with those divine influences ; you 
will perceive that man is not a hurriedly put together, 
or an unstudied piece of work. Among her noblest pro- 
ducts nature has none of wliich she can boast more 
than man, and assuredly no other which can compre- 
hend her boast. What madness is this, to call the gods 
in question for their bounty? If a man declares that 
he has received nothing when he is receiving all the while, 
and from those who will always be giving without ever 
receiving anything in return, how will he be grateful to 
those whose kindness cannot be returned without expense ? 
and how great a mistake is it not to be thankful to a 
giver, because he is good even to him who disowns him, or 
to use the fact of his bounty being poured upon us in an 
uninterrupted stream, as an argument to prove that he 
cannot help bestowing it. Supj)Ose that su(;h men as these 
say, “I do not want it,” “Let him keep it to himself,” 
“ Who asks him for it ? ” and so forth, with all the other 
speeches of insolent minds : still, he whose bounty reaches 
you, although you say that it does not, lays you under an 
obligation nevertheless ; indeed, perhaps the greatest part 
of the benefit which he bestows is that he is ready to give 
even when you are complaining against him. 

XXIV. Do you not see how parents force children during 
their infancy to undergo what is useful for their health ? 
Though the children cry and struggle, they swathe them 
and bind their limbs straight lest premature liberty should 
make them grow crooked, afterwards instill into them a 
liberal education, threatening those who are unwilling to 
learn, and finally, if spirited young men do not conduct 
themselves frugally, modestly, and respectably, they compel 
them to do so. Force and harsh measures are used even to 
youths who have grown up and are their own masters, if 
they, either from fear or from insolence, refuse to take 

N 



178 


ON BENEFITS. 


[EE. VI, 


wbat is good for them. Thus the greatest benefits that we 
receive, we receive either without knowing it, or against our 
will, from our parents. 

XXV. Those persons who are ungrateful and repudiate 
benefits, not because they do not wish to receive them, but 
in order that they may not be laid under an obligation for 
them, are like those who fall into the opposite extreme, and 
are over grateful, who pray that some trouble or mis- 
fortune may befall their benefactors to give them an oppor- 
tunity of proving how gratefully they remember the benefit 
which they have received. It is a question whether they 
are right, and show a truly dutiful feeling ; their state of 
mind is morbid, like that of frantic lovers who long for 
their mistress to be exiled, that they may accompany her 
when she leaves her country forsaken by all her friends, or 
that she may be poor in order that she may the more need 
what they give her, or who long that she may be ill in 
order that they may sit by her bedside, and who, in short, 
out of sheer, love form the same wishes as her enemies 
would wish for her. Thus the results of hatred and of 
frantic love are very nearly the same; and these lovers 
are very like those who hope that their friends may meet 
•vnth difiiculties which they may remove, and who thus 
do a wrong that they may bestow a benefit, whereas it 
would have been much better for them to do nothing, than 
by a crime to gain an opportunity of doing good service. 
WTiat should we say of a pilot who prayed to the gods 
for dreadful storms and tempests, in order that danger 
might make his skill more highly esteemed ? what of a 
general who should pray that a vast number of the enemy 
might surround his camp, fill the ditches by a sudden 
charge, tear down the rampart romid his panic-stricken 
army, and plant its hostile standards at the very gates, in 
order that he might gain more glory by restoring his 
broken ranks and shattered fortunes? All such men 



CH. xxvr.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


179 


confer their benefits upon us by odious means, for they 
lieg the gods to harm those whom they mean to help, ajid 
wish them to lie struck down before they raise them up; 
it is a cruel feeling, brought about by a distorted sense of 
gratitude, to wish evil to befall one whom one is bound 
in honour to succour. 

XXVI. “ My wisli,” argues our opponent, “ does him no 
harm, because when I wish for the danger I wish for the 
rescue at the same time.” What you mean by this is not 
that you do no wrong, but that you do less tlian if you 
wished that the danger might befall him, without wishing 
for the rescue. It is wicked to tlirow a man into the water 
in order that you may })ull him out, to tlirow him down 
that you may raise him uj), or to shut liim up that you inn y 
release him. You do not bestow a benefit upon a man by 
ceasing to wrong him, nor can it ever be a piece of good 
seiwice to anyone to remove from him a burden which you 
yourself imposed on him. True, you may cure the liiu-t 
which you inflict, but I had rather that you did not hurt m(i 
at all. You may gain my gratitude by curing me because 
I am wounded, but not by wounding me in order that you 
may cure me : no man likes scars except as compared with 
wounds, which, he is glad to see thus healed, though he had 
rather not have received them. It would he cruel to wish 
such things to befall one from whom you had never received 
a kindness ; how much more cruel is it to wish that they 
may befall one in whose debt you are. 

XXVII. “ I pray,” replies he, “ at the same time, that I 
may be able to help him.” In the first place, if I stoj) you 
short in the middle of your prayer, it shows at once that 
you are ungrateful : I have not yet heard what you wish 
to do for him ; I have heard what you wish him to suffer. 
You pray that anxiety and fear and even worse evil than 
this may come upon him. You desire that he may need 
aid : this is to his disadvantage ; you desire that he may 



180 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. VI. 


need your aid : this is to your advantage. You do noi; 
wish to help him, but to be set free from your obligation 
to him : for when you are eager to repay your debt in such 
a way as tliis, you merely wish to be set free from the debt, 
not to repay it. So the only part of your wish that could 
be thought honourable proves to be the base and migrateful 
feeling of unwillingness to lie under an obligation: for 
what you wish for is, not that you may have an oj)portuiiity 
of repaying his kindness, but that he may be forced to beg 
you to do him a kindness. You make yourself the superior, 
and you wickedly degrade Iwneath your feet the man who 
lias done you good service. How much better would it be 
to remain in his debt in an honourable and friendly manner, 
tliaii to seek to discharge the debt by these evil means ! 
You would be less to blame if you denied that you had re- 
ceived it, for your benefactor would then lose nothmg more 
than what he gave you, whereas now you wish him to be ren- 
dered inferior to you, and brought by the loss of his pro- 
]»erty and social position into a condition below his own 
lienefits. Do you think yourself grateful ? Just utter your 
wishes in the hearing of him to whom vou wish to do good. 
Do you call that a prayer for his w.Yare, which can be 
divided between his friend and his enemy, which, if the last 
part were omitted, you would not doubt was pronounced by 
one who opjiosed and hated him? Enemies in war have 
sometimes wished to capture certain towns in order to 
spare them, or to conquer certain persons in order to pardon 
t hem, yet these were the wishes of enemies, and what was 
riie kindest part of them began by cruelty. Finally, what 
sort of prayers do you think those can be which he, on 
whose behalf they are made, hopes more earnestly than 
any one else may not be granted? In hoping that the gods 
may injure a man, and that you may help him, you deal 
most dishonourably with him, and you do not treat the 
gods themselves fairly, for you give them the odious part 



CH. XXTIII.J 


ON BEKEFITS. 


181 


to play, and reserve the generous one for yourself : the gods 
must do him wrong in order that you may do him a ser- 
vice. If you were to suborn an informer to ae(mse a man, 
and afterwards withdrew him, if you engaged a man in a. 
law suit and afterwards gave it up, no one would hesitabi 
to call you a villain: whatdiffenmee does it make, wliethei- 
you attempt to do this by chicanery or by j>rayer, unless it 
be that by prayer you raise up more powerful enemies to 
him than by the otlier means P You cannot say “ Why, 
what harm do I do him ? ” your prayer is either futile or 
harmful, indeed it is harmful even though nothing conies 
of it. You do your friend wrong by wi siring him harm : 
you must thank the gods that you do liini no harm. Tlie 
fact of your wishing it is enough : we ought to be just as 
angry with you as if you liad ejected it. 

XXVIII. “ If,” argues our adversary, “ my prayers had 
any efficac;y, they would also have l)een eflicucious to save 
him from danger,” In the first place, I reply, the dangnr 
into which you wish me to fall is certain, the help which I 
should receive is micertain. Or call them l)oth certain ; it 
is that which injures me that (xnnes fii’st. Bi^sides, you 
understand the terms of your wish ; I sliall bo tossed by 
the storm without being sure that I have a haven of rest at 
hand. 

Think what torture it must have been to me, even if I 
receive your help, to have stood in need of it : if I escape 
safely, to have trembled for myself ; if I be acquitted, to 
have had to plead my cause. To escape from fear, however 
great it may be, can never be so pleasant as to live in 
sound unassailable safety. Pray that you may return my 
kindnesses when I need their return, but do not pray that 
I may need them. You would have done what yon prayed 
for, had it been in your power. 

XXIX. How far more honourable would a prayer of this 
sort be ; “I pray that he may remain in such a position as 



182 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk,. VI. 


that he may always bestow benefits and never need them : 
may he be attended by the means of giving and helping, of 
which he makes such a bountiful use ; may he never want 
benefits to bestow, or be sorry for any which he has be- 
stowed ; may his nature, fitted as it is for acts of pity, 
goodness, and clemency, be stimulated and brought out by 
numbers of grateful persons, whom I trust he will find with- 
out needing to make trial of their gratitude ; may he refuse 
to be reconciled to no one, and may no one require to be 
reconciled to him : may fortune so uiiiforinly continue to 
favour him that no one may be able to return his kindness 
in any way except by feeling grateful to him/’ 

How far more proper are such prayers as these, which do 
not put you off to some distant opportunity, but express 
your gratitude at once? What is there to prevent your 
returning yonr benefactor’s kindness, even while he is in 
prosperity ? How many ways are there by which- we can 
repay what we owe even to the affluent — for instance, by 
honest advice, by constant intercourse, by courteous con- 
versation, pleasing him without flattering him, by listening 
attentively to any subject which he may wish to discuss, by 
keeping safe any secret that he may impart to ns, and by 
social intercourse. There is no one so highly placed by 
fortune as not to want a friend all the more because he 
wants nothing. 

XXX. The other is a melancholy ojiportunity, and one 
which we ought always to pray may be kept far from us : 
must the gods be angry with a man in order that you may 
prove your gralitude to him? Do you not perceive that 
you are doing wrong, from the very fact that those to 
whom you are ungrateful fare better? Call up before 
your mind dungeons, chains, wretchedness, slavery, war, 
poverty : these ai'e the opportunities for wliich you pray ; 
if any one has any dealings with you, it is by means of 
these that you square your account. Why not rather 



ON BENEFITS. 


183 


CH. XXX.] 

wish that he to whom you owe most may be powerful 
and happy? for, as I have just said, what is there to 
prevent your retiiming the kindness even of those who 
enjoy the greatest prosperity? to do which, ample and 
various opportunities will present themselves to you. Wliat ! 
do you not know that a debt can be paid even to a rich man ? 
Nor will I trouble you with many instances of what you 
may do. Though a man’s riches and prosperity may prevent 
your making him any other I’epayment, I will show you 
what the highest in the land stand in need of, what is 
wanting to those who possess everything. They want a 
man to speak the truth, to save them from the organized 
mass of falsehood by which they are beset, which so bewil- 
ders them with lies that the habit of hearing only what is 
pleasant instead of what is true, prevents their knowing 
what truth really is. Do you not see how such persons are 
driven to ruin by the want of candour among their friends, 
whose loyalty has degenerated into slavish obsequiousness ? 
No one, when giving them his advice, tells them what he 
really thinks, but each vies with the other in flattery ; and 
while the man’s friends maliie it their only object to see who 
can most pleasantly deceive him, he himself is ignorant of 
his real powers, and, believing himself to be as great a man 
as he is told that he is, plunges the State in useless wars, 
wliich bring disasters upon it, breaks off a useful and 
necessary peace, and, through a passion of anger which 
no one checks, spills the blood of numbers of people, and at 
last sheds his own. Such persons assert what has never 
been investigated as certain facts, consider that to modify 
their opinion is as dishonourable as to be conquered, believe 
that institutions which are just flickering out of existence 
will last for ever, and, thus overturn great States, to the de- 
struction of themselves and all who are connected with 
them. Living as they do in a fool’s paradise, resplendent 
with unreal and short-lived advantages, they forget that, as 



184 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. VI. 


soon as they put it out of their power to hear the truth, 
there is no limit to the misfortunes which they may expect. 

XXXI. When Xerxes declared war against G-reece, all 
his courtiers encouraged his boastful temper, which forgot 
how unsubstantial his grounds for confidence were. One 
declared that the Greeks would not endure to hear the 
news of the declaration of war, and would take to flight at 
the first rumour of his approach ; another, that with sucJi 
a vast army Greece could not only be conquered, but 
utterly overwhelmed, and that it was ratlicr to be feared 
that they would find the Greek cities empty and aban- 
doned, and that the panic flight of the enemy would 
leave them only vast deserts, where no use could be made 
of their enormous forces. Another told him that the world 
was hardly large enough to contain him, that the seas were 
too narrow for his fleets, the camps would not take in his 
armies, the plains were not wide enough to deploy his 
cavalry in, and that the sky itself was scarcely large enough 
to enable all his troops to hurl their darts at once. While 
much boasting of this sort was going on around him, 
raising his already overweening self-confidence to a frantic 
pitch, Demaratus, the Lacedaemonian, alone told him that 
the disorganized and unwieldy multitude in which he trusted, 
was in itself a danger to its chief, because it possessed only 
weight without strength ; for an army which is too large 
cannot be governed, and one which cannot be governed, can- 
not long exist. “ The Lacedaemonians,” said he, “ will meet 
you upon the first mountain in Greece, and will give you a 
taste of their quality. All these thousands of nations of 
yours will be held in check by three hundred men : they will 
stand firm at their posts, they will defend the passes entrusted 
to them with their weapons, and block them up with their 
bodies : all Asia wiU not force them to give way ; few as 
they are, they will stop all this terrible invasion, attempted 
though it be by nearly i.he whole human race. Though the 



CH. XXXI.] ON BENEFITS. 185 

laws of nature may give way to yon, and enable you to 
pass from Europe to Asia, yet you will stop short in a by- 
path ; consider what your losses will be afterwards, when 
you have reckoned up the price whieli you have to pay 
for the pass of Thermopylte; when you learn that your 
march can be stayed, you will discover that you may be put 
to flight. The Greeks will yield up many parts of their 
country to you, as if they were swept out of them by the 
first terril)lc rush of a mountain torrent ; afterwards they 
will rise against you from all quarters and will crush yhu 
by means of your own strength. What people say, that 
your warlike preparations are too great to be contained in 
the countries which you intend to attack, is quite true ; but 
this is to our disadvantage. Greece will conquer you for 
this very reason, that she cannot contain you ; you cannot 
make use of the whole of your force. Besides this, you will 
not be able to do what is essential to victory — that is, to 
meet the manoeuvres of the enemy at once, to support your 
own men if they give way, or to cunfirm and strengthen 
them when their ranks are wavering; long l)cfore you 
know it, you will be defeated. Moreover, you should not 
think that because your army is so large that its own chief 
does not know its numbers, it is therefore irresistible: 
there is nothing so great that it cannot perish ; nay, with- 
out any other cause, its own excessive size may prove its 
ruin.” What Demaratus predicted came to pass. He 
whose power gods and men obeyed, and who swept away 
all that opposed him, was bidden to halt by three hundred 
men, and the Persians, defeated in every part of Greece, 
learned how great a difference there is between a mob and 
an army. Thus it came to pass that Xerxes, who suf- 
fered more from the shame of his failure than from the 
losses which he sustained, thanked Demaratus for having 
been the only man who told liim the truth, and permitted 
him to ask what boon he pleased. He asked to be allowed 



186 


ON BENEFITS, 


[bk. VI. 


to drive a chariot into Sardis, the largest city in Asia, wear- 
ing a tiara erect upon his head, a privilege which was en- 
joyed by kings alone. He deserved his reward before he asked 
for it, bnt how wretched must the nation have been, in 
which there was no one who would speak the truth to the 
king except one man, who did not speak it to himself. 

XXXII. The late Emperor Augustus banished his 
daughter, whose conduct went beyond the shame of ordinary 
immodesty, and made public the scandals of the imperial 
house 

Led away by his passion, he divulged all these crimes 
which, as emperor, he ought to have kept secret with as much 
care as he punished them, because the shame of some deeds 
asperses even him who avenges them. Afterwards, when 
by lapse of time shame took the place of anger in his mind, 
he lamented that he had not kept silence about matters which 
he had not learned until it was disgraceful to speak of them, 
and often used to exclaim, “ None of these things would have 
happened to me, if either Agrippa or Maecenas had lived ! ” 
So hard was it for the master of so many thousands of men 
to repair the loss of two. When his legions were slaugh- 
tered, new ones were at once enrolled ; when his fleet was 
wrecked, within a few days another was afloat; when 
the public buildings were consumed by fire, finer ones arose 
in their stead; but the places of Agrippa and Maecenas 
remained unfilled throughout his life. What am I to 
imagine? that there were not any men like these, who 
could take their place, or that it was the fault of Augustus 
himself, who preferred mourning for them to seeking for 
their likes ? We have no reason for supposing that it was 
the habit of Agrippa or Maecenas to speak the truth to him ; 
indeed, if they had lived they would have been as great 
dissemblers as the rest. It is one of the habits of kings to 
insult their present servants hy j)raising’ those whom they 



CH. XXXIII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


187 


liave lost, aiicT to attribute the virtue of trutlifiil speaking 
to those from whom there is no further risk of hearing it. 

XXXni. However, to return to my subject, you see 
how easy it is to retuni the Idncliiess of the prosperous, 
and even of those who occupy the highest pla(jes of all man- 
kind. Tell them, not what they wish to hear, but what 
they will wish that they always had heard ; though their 
ears be stopped by flatteries, yet sometimes truth may pene- 
trate them ; give them useful advice. Do you ask what 
service you can render to a prospc^rous man ? Teach liiui 
not to rely upon his prosjierity, and to understand that it 
ought to be supported by the hands of many trusty friends. 
Will you not have done much for him, if you take away 
his foolish belief that his influence will endure for ever, 
and teach him that what we gain by chance passes away 
soon, and at a quicker rate than it came ; that we cannot 
fall by the same stages by which we rose to the height of 
good fortune, but that frequently between it and ruin there 
is but one step ? You do not know how great is the value 
of friendship, if you do not understand how much you give 
to him to whom you give a friend, a commodity which is 
scarce not only in men’s houses, but in whole centuries, 
and which is nowhere scarcer than in the places where it is 
thought to be most pleutiful. Pray, do you suppose that 
those books of names, which your nomenclator ’ can hardly 
carry or remember, are those of friends ? It is not your 
friends who crowd to knock at your door, and who are 
admitted to your greater or lesser levees. 

XXXIV. To divide one’s friends into classes is an old 
trick of kings and their imitators ; it shows great arrogance 
to think that to touch or to pass one’s threshold can be a 
valuable privilege, or to grant as an honour that you 

* The nomenclator was a slave who attended his master iti canvassing 
and on similar occasions, for the purpose of telling him the names of 
those whom he met in the street. 



188 ON BEN3PITS. [bK. VI. 

should sit nearer one’s front door than others, or enter tlie 
house before them, although within the house there are 
many more doors, which shut out even those who have been 
admitted so far. With us Gains Gractchus, and shortly 
after him Livius Drusus, were the first to keep themselves 
apart from the mass of their adherents, and to admit some 
to their j^rivacj, some to their more select, and others to 
tlieir general receptions. These men consequently had 
friends of the first and second rank, and so on, but in none 
had they true friends. Can you apply the name of friend 
to one who is admitted in his regular order to pay Iris 
respects to you? or can you expect perfect loyalty from 
one who is forced, to slip into your presence through a 
grudgingly-opened door? How can a man arrive at using 
bold freedom of speech with you, if he is only allowed in 
his proper turn to make use of the common phrase, “ Hail 
to you,” which is used by perfect strangers? Whenever 
you go to any of these great men, whose levees interest the 
whole city, though you find all the streets besot with 
throngs of ];»eoplc, and the passers-by hardly able to malre 
their way through the crowd, you may be sure that you 
have conie to a place where there are many men, but no 
friends of their patron. We must not seek our friends in 
our entrance hall, but in our own breast ; it is there that he 
ought to be received, there retained, and hoarded up in our 
mmds. Teach this, and you will have repaid your debt of 
gratitude. 

XXXV. If you are useful to your friend only when he is 
in distress, and are superfluous when all goes well with him, 
you form a mean estimate of your own value. As you can 
bear yourself wisely both in doubtful, in prosperous, and in 
adverse circumstances, by showing prudence in doubtful 
cases, courage in misfortune, and self-restraint in good for- 
tune, so in all circumstances you can make yourself useful to 
your friend. I)o not desert him in adversity, but do not wish 



ON BENEFITS. 


189 


CH. XXXV.] 

that it may befall him,: the various incidents of human life 
will afford you many opportmiities of proving your loyalty to 
him without wishing him evil. He who prays that another 
may become rich, in order that he may share liis riches, really 
has a view to his own advantage, although his prayers are 
ostensibly offered in behalf of Ms friend ; and similarly ho 
who wishes that his friend may get into some trouble from 
which Ms own friendly assistance may extricate him — a 
most ungrateful wish — prefers himself to his friend, and 
thinks it worth while that liis friend should be unhappy, in 
order that he may prove his gratitude. This very wish 
makes him ungrateful, for he wishes to rid himself of his 
gratitude as though it were a heavy burden. In returning 
a kindness it makes a great difference whether you are 
eager to bestow a benefit, or merely to free yourself from a 
debt. He who wishes to return a benefit will study his 
friend’s interests, and will hope that a suitable occasion will 
arise ; he who only wishes to free himself from an obliga- 
tion will be eager to do so by any means whatever, which 
shows very bad feehng. “ Do you say,” we may bo asked, 
‘‘that eagerness to repay kindness belongs to a morbid 
feeling of gratitude? ” I cannot explain my meaning more 
clearly than by repeating what I have already said. You do 
not want to repay, but to escape from the benefit which you 
have received. You seem to say, “ Wlien shall I get free 
from tliis obligation ? I must strive by any means in my 
power to extinguish my debt to him.” You would be 
thought to be far from grateful, if you wished to pay a 
debt to Mm with Ms own money ; yet this wish of yours is 
even more unjust ; for you invoke curses upon him, and 
call down terrible imprecations upon the head of one who 
ought to be held sacred by you. No one, I suppose, would 
have any doubt of your wickedness if you were openly to 
pray that he might suffer poverty, captivity, hunger, or 
fear ; yet what is the difference between openly praying 



190 os BENEFITS. [liK. VI., 

for some of these things, and silently wishing for them ? for 
yon do wish for some of these. G-o, and enjoy your belief 
that this is gratitude, to do what not even an ungrateful 
man would do, supposing he confined himself to repudiating 
the benefit, and did not go so far as to hate his benefactor. 

XXXVI. Who would call ^Eneas pious, if he wished that 
liis native city might be captured, in order that he might 
save his father from captivity ? Who would point to the 
Sicilian youths as good examples for his children, if they 
had prayed that iEtna might flame with unusual heat and 
pour forth a vast mass of fire in order to afford them an 
opportunity of displaying their filial affection by rescuing 
their parents from the midst of the conflagration ? Rome 
owes Scipio nothing if he kept the Punic War alive in 
order that he might have the glory of finishing it ; she 
owes nothing to the Becii if they prayed for ])ublio 
disasters, to give themselves an o])portunity of displaying 
their brave self-devotion. It is the greatest scandal for a 
physician to make work for himself ; and nniny wiio have 
aggravated the diseases of their patients that they may 
have the greater credit for curing them, have either failed 
to cure them at all, or have done so at the cost of the most 
terrible suffering to their victims. 

XXXYII. It is said (at any rate Hecaton tells us) that 
when Callistratus with many others was driven into exile 
by his factious and licentiously free country, some one 
prayed that such trouble might befall the Athenians that 
they would be forced to recall the exiles, on heaiing which, 
he prayed that God might forbid liis return upon such 
terms. When some one tried to console our own country- 
man, Rutilius, for his exile, pointing out that civil war 
was at hand, and that all exiles would soon be restored to 
Rome, he answered with even greater spirit, “ What harm 
nave I done you, that you should wish that I may return to 
my country more unhappily than I qu’t it? My wish is, 



CH. XXXYIII.' 


ON BENEFITS. 


191 


tliat my country should blush at my being banished, rather 
than that she should mourn at my having returned.” An 
exile, of which every one is more ashamed than the sufferer, 
is not exile at all. These two persons, who did not wish to 
be restored to their homes at the cost of a publit; disaster, 
but preferred that two should suffer unjustly than that all 
should suffer alike, are thought to have acted like good 
citizens ; and in like manner it does not accord with the 
character of a grateful man, to wish that his benefactor 
may fall into troubles which he may dispel ; because, even 
though he may mean well to him, yet he wishes him evil. 
To put out a fire which you yourself have lighted, will not 
even gain acquittal for you, let alone credit. 

XXXVIII. In some states an evil wish was regarded as 
a crime. It is certain that at Athens Demades obtained a 
verdict against one who sold furniture for funerals, by 
proving that he had prayed for great gains, which he could 
not obtain without the death of many persons. Yet it is a 
stock question whether he was rightly found guilty. Per" 
haps he prayed, not that he might sell his wares to many per- 
sons, but that he might sell them dear, or that he might pro- 
cure what he was going to sell, cheaply. Since his business 
consisted of buying and selling, why should you consider 
his prayer to apply to one branch of it only, although he 
made profit from both? Besides this, you might find 
every one of his trade guilty, for they all wish, that is, 
secretly pray, as he did. You might, moreover, find a 
great part of the human race guilty, for who is there who 
does not profit by his neighbour’s wants ? A soldier, if he 
wishes for glory, must wish for war ; tlie farmer profits by 
corn being dear ; a large number of litigants raises the 
price of forensic eloquence ; physicians make money by a 
sickly season ; dealers in luxuries are made rich by the 
effeminacy of youth ; suppose that no storms and no con- 
flagrations injured our dwellings, the builder’s trade would 



192 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. VI. 


be at a standstill. Tlie prayer of one man was detected, 
but it was just like the prayers of all other men. Do 
you imagine that Arruntius and Haterius, and all other 
professional legacy -hunters do not put up the same prayers 
as undertakers and grave-diggers ? though the latter know 
not whose death it is that they wish for, while the former 
wish for the death of their dearest friends, from whom, on 
account of their intimacy, they have most hopes of inherit- 
ing a fortune. No one’s life does the undertaker any 
hann, whereas these men starve if their friends are long 
about dying ; they do not, therefore, merely wish for their 
deaths in order that they may receive what they have 
earned by a disgraceful servitude, but in order that they 
may be set free from a heavy tax. There can, therefore, 
be no doubt that such persons repeat with even greater 
earnestness the prayer for which the undertaker was con- 
demned, for whoever is likely to profit such men by dying, 
does them an injury by living. Yet the wishes of all these 
are alilve well known and unpunished. Lastly, let every man 
examine his own self, let him look into the secret thoughts 
of his heart and consider what it is that he silently hopes 
for ; how many of his prayers he would blush to acknow- 
ledge, even to himself ; how few there are which we could 
re])eat in the presence of witnesses ! 

XXXIX, Yet we must not condemn every thing which 
we find worthy of blame, as, for instance, this wish about 
our friends which we have been discussing, arises from a 
misdirected feeling of affection, and falls into the very 
error which it strives to avoid, for the man is ungrateful 
at the very time when he hurries to prove his gratitude. 
He prays aloud, " May he faU into my power, may he need 
my influence, majr 'not be able to be safe and respectable 
without my aid, may he be so unfortunate that whatever 
return I make to him may be regarded as a benefit.” To 
the gods alone he adds, “ May domestic treasons encompass 



ON BENEFITS. 


193 


CH. XL.] 

him, wliicli can be quelled by me alone ; may some power- 
ful and virulent enemy, some excited and armed mob, assail 
him ; may he be set upon by a creditor or an informer.” 

XL, See, how just you are; you would never have 
wished any of these misfortunes to befall him, if he had not 
bestowed a benefit upon you. Not to speak of the graver 
guilt which you incur by returning evil for good, yon dis- 
tinctly do wrong in not waiting for the fitting time for 
each action, for it is as wrong to anticipate this as it is not 
to take it when it comes. A benefit ouglit not always to 
be accepted, and ought not in all cases to be returned. If 
you were to return it to me against my will, you would be 
ungrateful, how much more ungrateful are you, if you 
force me to wish for it? Wait patiently; why are you 
unwilling to let my bounty abide with you ? Why do you 
chafe at being laid under an obligation ? why, as though 
you were dealing with a harsh usurer, are you in such a 
hurry to sign and seal an equivalent bond ? Why do you 
wish me to get into trouble? Why do you call upon the 
gods to ruin me? If this is your way of returning a 
kindness, what would you do if you were exacting repay- 
ment of a debt ? 

XLI. Above all, therefore, my Liberalis, let us learn to 
live calmly under an obligation to others, and watch for 
opportunities of repaying our debt without manufacturing 
them. Let us remember that this anxiety to seize the first 
opportunity of setting ourselves free shows ingratitude; for 
no one repays with good will that which he is unwilling to 
owe, and his eagerness to get it out of his hands shows that 
he regards it as a burden rather than as a favour. How much 
better and more righteous is it to bear in mind what we owe 
to our friends, and to offer repayment, not to obtrude it, nor 
to think ourselves too much indebted ; because a benefit is a 
common bond which connects two persons. Say “ I do not 
delay to repay your kindness to me ; I hope that you will 



194 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. vl 


accept my gratitude cheerfully. If irresistible fate hangs 
over either of us, and destiny rules either that you must 
receive your benefit back again, or that I must receive a 
second benefit, why then, of us two, let him give that was 
wont to give. I am ready to receive it. 

“ ’Tis nut the part of Turnus to delay.” 

That is the spirit which I shall show whenever the time 
comes ; in the meanwhile the gods shall be my witnesses. 

XLII. I have noted in you, my Liberalis, and as it were 
touched with my hand a feeling of fussy anxiety not to be 
behindhand in doing what is your duty. This anxiety is 
not suitable to a grateful mind, which, on the contrary, pro- 
duces the utmost confidence in oneself, and which drives 
away all trouble by the consciousness of real affection to- 
wards one’s benefactor. To say “ Take back what you gave 
me,” is no less a reproach than to say “You are in my 
debt.” Let this be the first privilege of a benefit, that he 
who bestowed it may choose the time when he will have it 
returned. “ But I fear that men may speak ill of me.” 
You do wrong if you are grateful only for the sake of your 
reputation, and not to satisfy your conscience. You have 
in tlfis matter two judges, your benefactor, whom you 
ought not, and yourself, whom you cannot deceive. “But,” 
say you, “ if uo occasion of repayment offers, am I always 
to remain in his debt ? ” Yes ; but you should do so 
openly, and willingly, and should view with great pleasure 
what he has entrusted to you. If you are vexed at not 
having yet returned a benefit, you must be sorry that you 
ever received it ; but if he deserved that you should receive 
a benefit from him, why should he not deserve that you 
should long remain in his debt ? 

XLIII. Those persons are much mistaken who regard it 
as a proof of a great mind to make offers to give, and to 
fill many men’s ))oeket8 and houses with their presents, for 



CH. XLIIL] 


ON BENEFITS. 


195 


sometimes these are due uot to a great mind, but to a great 
fortune ; they do not know how far more great and more 
difficult it sometimes is to receive than to lavish gifts. I 
must disparage neither act; it is as proper to a noble 
heart to owe as to receive, for both are of equal value when 
done virtuously ; indeed, to owe is the more difficult, be* 
cause it requires more pains to keep a thing safe than to 
give it away. We ought not therefore to bo in a hurry to 
repay, nor need we seek to do so out of due season, for to 
hasten to make repayment at the wrong time is as bad as 
to be slow to do so at the right time. My Umef actor has 
entrusted his bounty to me : I ought not to have any fears 
either on his behalf or on my own. He has a sufficient 
security ; he cannot lose it except he loses me— nay, not 
even if he loses me. I have returned thanks to him for it 
—that is, I have requited him. He who tliinlcs too much 
about repaying a benefit must suppose that his friend 
thinks too much about receiving repayment. Make no dif- 
ficulty about either course. If he wishes to recjeive his 
benefit back again, let us return it cheerfully ; if he prefers 
to leave it in our hands, why should we dig up his treasure ? 
why should we decline to be its guardians ? he deserves to 
be allowed to do whichever he pleases. As for fame and 
reputation, let us regard them as matters which ought to 
accompany, but which ought not to direct our actions. 



Book Vll 


I. 

gE of good clieer, my Liberalis ; 

“ Our port is close, and I will not delay, 

Nor by digressions wander from the way/ 

This hook collects together all that has been omitted, and in 
it, having exhausted my subject, I shall consider not what 
I am to say, but what there is which I have not yet said. If 
there be anything superfluous in it, I pray you take it in good 
part, since it is for you that it is superfluous. Had I wished 
to set off my work to the best advantage, I ought to have 
added to it by degrees, and to have kept for the last that 
part which would be eagerly perused even by a sated 
reader. However, instead of this, I have collected together 
all that was essential in the beginning ; I am now collecting 
together whatever then escaped me ; nor, by Hercules, if 
you ask me, do I think that, after the rules which govern 
our conduct have been stated, it is very much to the pur- 
pose to discuss the other questions which have been raised 
more for the exercise of our intellects than for the health of 
our minds. The cynic Demetrius, who in my opinion was 
a great man even if compared with the greatest philoso- 
phers, had an admirable saying about this, that one gained 
more by having a few wise precepts ready and in common 
use than by learning many without having them at hand. 
“ The best wrestler,” he would say, “is not he who has 
learned thoroughly all the tricks and twists of the art, 
which are seldom met with in actual wrestling, but he who 



CH. I.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


197 


has well and carefully trained himself in one or two of 
them, and watches keenly for an opportunity of practising 
them. It does not matter how many of them he knows, if 
he knows enough to give him the victory ; and so in this 
subject of ours there are many points of interest, but few 
of importance. You need not know what is the system of 
the ocean tides, why each seventh year leaves its mark upon 
the human body, why the more distant parts of a long 
portico do not keep their true proportion, but seem to 
approach one another until at last the spaces between the 
columns disappear, how it can be that twins are conceived 
separately, though they are bom together, whether both re- 
sult from one, or each from a separate act, why those whose 
birth was the same should have such different fates in life, 
and dwell at the greatest possible distance from one 
another, although they were born toucliing one another ; 
it will not do you much haim to pass over matters which 
we are not pemitted to know, and which we should not 
profit l)y knowing. Truths so obscure may be neglected 
with imj)imity.^ Nor can we complain that nature deals 
hardly with us, for there is nothing which is hard to dis- 
cover except those things by which we gain nothing beyond 
the credit of having discovered them ; whatever things tend 
to make us better or happier are either obvious or easily 
discovered. Your mind can rise superior to the accidents of 
life, if it can raise itself above fears and not greedily covet 
boundless wealth, but has learned to seek for riches within 
itself ; if it has cast out the fear of men and gods, and has 
learned that it has not much to fear from man, and nothing 
to fear from G-od ; if by scorning all those things which 
make life miserable while they adorn it, the mind can soar 
to such a height as to see clearly that death cannot be the 
beginning of any trouble, though it is the end of many ; if 
it can dedicate itself to righteousness and think any path 
^ Tko old saying, ‘ Truth lurks dfc]) in a well (or abyss).’ 



198 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bK. VII, 


easy wliicli leads to it ; if, being a gregarious creature, 
and bom for the common good, it regards the world as the 
universal home, if it keeps its conscience clear towards God 
and Hves always as though in public, fearing itself more 
than other men, llien it avoids all storms, it stands on firm 
ground in fair daylight, and has brought to perfection its 
knowledge of all that is useful and essential. All that 
remains serves merely to amuse our leisure ; yet, when 
nice amdiored in safety, the mind may consider these matters 
also, though it can derive no strength, but only culture from 
their discussion.” 

II. The above are the rules which my friend Demetrius 
bids liim who would make progress m philosophy to clutch 
with both Iiands, never to let go, but to cling to them, and 
make them a part of himself, and by daily meditation upon 
them to bring himself into such a state of mind, that these 
wliolesome maxims occur to him of their own accord, that 
wherever lie may be, they may straightway be ready for 
use when required, and tliat the criterion of right and 
wrong may present its(df to him without delay. Let 
him know that nothing is evil except what is base, and 
nothing good except what is honourable ; let him guide his 
life by this rule : let him both act and expect others to act 
in accordance with this law, and let him regard those whose 
minds are steeped in indolence, and who are given up to lust 
and gluttony, as the most pitiable of mankind, no matter how 
splendid their fortunes may be. Let him say to himself, 
“ Pleasure is uncertain, short, apt to paU upon us, and the 
more eagerly we indulge in it, the sooner we bring on a re- 
action of feeling against it ; we must necessarily afterwards 
blush for it, or be sorry for it, there is nothing grand about it, 
nothing worthy of man’s nature, little lower as it is than 
that of the gods ; pleasure is a low act, brought about by the 
agency of our inferior and baser members, and shameful in 
its result, True pleasure, worthy of a human being and of 



CH. III.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


1C9 


a man, is, not to stuff or swell his body with food and drink, 
nor to excite lusts which are least hurtful when they are most 
quiet, but to be free from all forms of mental disturbance, 
both those which arise from men’s ambitious struggles witli 
one another, and those which come from on high and are 
more difficult to deal with, which flow from our taking the 
traditional view of the gods, and estimating them by the 
analogy of our own vices,” This equable, secure, uncloyiug 
pleasure is enjoyed by the man now described ; a man 
skilled, so to say, in the laws of gods and men alike. Such 
a man enjoys the present without anxiety for the future : 
for he who depends upon what is uncertain can rely con- 
fidently upon nothing. Thus lie is free from all those 
great troubles which unhinge the mind, he neither hopes 
for, nor covets anything, and engages in no uncertain ad- 
ventures, behig satisfied with what he has. Do not suppose 
that he is satisfied with a little ; for everything is his, and 
that not m the sense in which all was Alexander’s, who, 
though he reached the shore of the lied Sea, yet wanted 
more territory than that through which he had come. He 
did not even own those countries which he held or had 
conquered, while Onesicritus, whom he had sent on before 
him to discover new countries, was wandering about the 
ocean and engaging in war in unknown seas, Is it not 
clear that he who pushed his armies beyond the bounds of 
the universe, who with reckless greed dashed headlong into 
a boundless and unexplored sea, must in reality have been 
full of wants ? It matters not how many kingdoms he may 
have seized or given away, or how great a part of the world 
may pay him tribute ; such a man must be in need of as 
much as he desires. 

III. This was not the vice of Alexander alone, who followed 
with a fortunate audacity in the footsteps of Bacchus and 
Hercules, but it is common to all those whose covetousness 
is whetted rather than appeased by good foidune. Look at 



200 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bK. VII. 


Cyrus and Cambyses and all tlie royal house of Persia: can 
you find one among them who thought his empire large 
enough, or was not at the last gasp still aspiring after fur- 
ther conquests ? We need not wonder at this, for wliatever 
is obtained by covetousness is simply swallowed up and lost, 
nor does it matter how much is poured into its insatiable 
maw. Only the wise man possesses everything without 
having to struggle to retain it ; he alone does not need to 
send ambassadors across the seas, measure out camps upon 
hostile shores, place garrisons in commanding forts, or 
manoeuvre legions and squadrons of cavalry. Like the 
immortal gods, who govern their realm without recourse 
to arms, and from their serene and lofty heights protect 
their own, so the wise man fulfils his duties, however far- 
reaching they may be, without disorder, and looks down 
upon the whole human race, because he himself is the 
greatest and most powerful member thereof. You may 
laugh at him, but if you in your mind sUrvey the east 
and the west, reaching even to the regions separated from 
us by vast wildernesses, if you think of all the creatures 
of the earth, all the riches which the bounty of nature 
lavishes, it shows a great spirit to be able to say, as though 
you were a god, “All these are mine.” Thus it is that 
he covets nothing, for there is nothing which is not con- 
tained in everything, and ever3dhing is his. 

lY. “ This,” say you, “ is the very thing that I wanted 
I have caught you ! I shall be glad to see how you will 
extricate yourself from the toils into which you have fallen 
of your oAvn accord. Tell me, if the wise man possesses 
everything, how can one give anything to a wise man ? for 
even what you give 'him is his already. It is impossibl,e, 
therefore, to bestow a benefit upon a wise man, if whatever 
is given him comes from his own store; yet you Stoics 
declare that it is possible to give to a wise man. I make 
the same inquiry about friends as well : for you say that 



ON BENEFITS. 


201 


CH. lY.] 

friends own everything in common, and. if so, no one can 
give anytliing to his friend, for he gives what his friend 
owned already in common with himself.” 

There is nothing to prevent a thing belonging to a wise 
man, and yet being the property of its legal owner. Accord- 
ing to law everything in a state belongs to tlio Ivdng, yet all 
that property over whicli the king has rights of possession 
is parcelled out among individual owners, and each separate 
thing belongs to somebody : and so one can give the king a 
liouse, a slave, or a sum of money without being said to 
give him what was his already ; for the king has rights 
over all these things, while each citizen has the ownership 
of them. We speak of the country of the Athenians, or of 
the Campanians, though the inhabitants divide them 
amongst themselves into se2)arate estates ; the whole region 
belongs to one state or another, but each i)art of it belongs 
to its own individual projuietor ; so that we are able to 
give our lands to the state, although they are reckoned 
as belonging to the state, because we and the state own 
them in different ways. Can there be any doubt that all 
the private savings of a slave belong to his master as well as 
he himself ? yet he makes his master presents. The slave 
does not therefore possess nothing, because if his master 
chose he might i)088css nothing ; nor does what he gives of 
his own free will cease to be a present, because it might have 
been wrung from him against his will. As for how we are 
to prove that the wise man possesses all things, we shall see 
afterwards ; for the present we are both agreed to regard 
this as true ; we must gather together something to answer 
the question before us, which is, how any means remain 
of acting generously towards one who already possesses 
all things? All things that a son has belong to his father, 
yet who does not know that in spite of this a son can 
make presents to his father? All things l)elong to the 
gods ; yet we make presents and bestow alms even upon 



202 


ON BENEFITS, 


[bK. VII. 


the gods, "What I have is not necessarily not mine be- 
cause it belongs to yon ; for the same thing may belong 
both to me and to yon. 

“ He to whom conrtezans belong,” argnes our adversary, 
“most be a jjrocnrer: now courtezans are included in all 
things, therefore courtezans belong to the wise man. But 
he to whom, courtezans belong is a procurer ; therefore the 
wise man is a procurer.” Yes ! by the same reasoning, our 
opponents would forbid him to buy anything, arguing, 
“ No man buys his own property. Now all things are the 
property of the wise man ; therefore the wise man buys 
nothing.” By the same reasoning they object to his borrow- 
ing, l)ecause no one pays interest for the use of his own 
money. They raise endless quibbles, although they per- 
fectly well understand what we say. 

V. For, when I say that the wise man possesses every- 
thing, I mean that he does so without thereby impairing 
each man’s individual rights m his own property, in the 
same way as in a country ruled by a good king, everything 
belongs to the king, by the right of his authority, and to 
the people by their several rights of ownership. This I 
sliall prove in its proper jdace ; in the mean time it is a 
sufficient answer to the question to declare that I am able 
to give to the wise man that which is in one way mine, 
and in another way his. Nor is it strange that I should 
be able to give anything to one who possesses everything. 
Suppose I have hired a house from you : some part of that 
house is mine, some is yours ; the house itself is yours, the 
use of your house belongs to me. Crops may ripen upon 
your land, but you cannot touch them against the will of 
your tenant j and if com be dear, or at famine price, you 
will 

“ In vain anothei’’s mighty store behold,” 
grown upon your land, lying upon your land, and to be de- 



CH. YII.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


203 


posited in your own bams. Tboiigli you be tlie landlord, 
you must not enter my hir(3d bouse, nor may you tab’e 
away your own slave from me if I have contracted for bis 
services ; nay, if I hire a carriage from you, I bestow a 
benefit by allowing you to take your seat in it, alf bougb it 
is your own. You see, tlierefore, that it is possible for a 
man to receive a present ])y accepting wliat is bis own. 

VI, In all the cases wliicli I bave mentioned, each party 
is tlie owner of the same iliiiig. How is tbis ? It is be- 
cause tbe one owns tbe tiling, tbe otber owns the use of the 
tiling. We speak of the books of Cicero. Horns, f he book- 
seller, calls these same books liis own ; tbe one claims them 
because be wrote them, tbe other because be bought them ; 
so that they may quite correctly be spoken of as belonging 
to either of tbe two, for they do belong to each, though in 
a different mauiier. Thus Titus Livins may receive as a 
present, or may buy bis own books from Horus. Although 
the wise man possesses everything, yet I can give him what 
I individually possess; for though, king-like, he in his 
mind possesses everything, yet the ownership of all things 
is divided among various individuals, so that he can both 
receive a present and owe one; can buy, or hire things. 
Everything belongs to Caesar ; yet he has no private pro- 
perty beyond his own privy purse ; as Emperor all things 
are his, but nothing is his own except what he inherits. It 
is possible, without treason, to discuss what is and what is 
not his ; for even what the court may decide not to be his, 
from another point of view is his. In the same way the 
wise man in lii.s mind possesses everything, in actual right 
and ownership he possesses only his own property. 

VII. Bion is able to prove by argument at one time that 
everyone is sacrilegious, at another that no one is. When 
he is in a mood, for casting all men down the Tarpeian rock, 
he says, “ Wliosoever touches that which belongs to the 
god^. and consumes it or converts it to his own uses, is sacri- 



20i ON BENEyiTS, [bK. VII. 

legions; but all things belong to the gods, so that what- 
ever thing any one touches belongs to them to whom all 
belongs; whoever, therefore, touches any tiling is sacri- 
legious.” Again, when he bids men break open temples 
and pillage the Capitol without fear of the wrath of lioaven, 
he declares that no one can be sacrilegious ; because, what- 
ever a man takes away, he takes from one place which be- 
longs to the gods into another place which belongs to the 
gods. The answer to this is that all places do indeed be- 
long to the gods, but all are not consecrated to them, and 
that sacrilege can only be done in places solemnly dedicated 
to heaven. Thus, also, the whole world is a temple of the 
immortal gods, and, indeed, the only one worthy of their 
greatness and splendour, and yet there is a distinction 
between things sacred and profane; all things which it is 
lawful to do under the sky and the stars are not lawful to 
do within consecratcid walls. The sacrilegious man cannot 
do G-od any harm , for He is placed beyond his reach by His 
divine nature ; yet he is punished because he seems to have 
done Him harm : his punislnnent is demanded by our feel- 
ing on the matter, and even by his own. In the same way, 
therefore, as he who carries ojS any saui'ed things is re- 
garded as sacrilegious, although that which ho stole is 
nevertheless within the limits of the world, so it is possible 
to steal from a wise man : for in that case it will be some, 
not of that universe which he possesses, but some of those 
tilings of which he is the acknowledged owner, and which are 
severally his own property, which will be stolen from him. 
The fonner of these possessions he will recognize as his 
own, the latter he will be unwilling, even if he be able to 
possess ; he will say, as that Roman commander said, when, 
to reward his courage and good service to the state, he was 
assigned as much land as he could inclose in one day’s 
ploughing. “ You do not,” said he, “ want a citizen who 
wants more than is enough for one citizen.” Do you not 



CH. vm.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


205 


tliinli that it required a much greater man to refuse this 
reward than to earn it? for many have taken away the 
landmarks of other men's property, but no one sets up 
limits to his own. 

VIII. Vriien, then, we consider that the mind of the 
truly wise man has power over all things and pervades all 
things, we cannot help declarmg tliat everytliing is his, 
although, in the estimation of our common law, it may 
chance that he may be rated as possessing no property what- 
ever. It makes a great difference whether we estimate wliat 
he owns by the greatness of liis mind, or by the public re- 
gister. He would pray to be delivered from that possession 
of everything of which you speak. I will not remind you of 
Socrates, Chrysippus, Zeno, and other great men, all the 
greater, however, because envy prevents no one from 
praising, the ancients. But a short time ago I mentioned 
Demetrius, who seems to have been pla(;ed by nature in 
our times that he might prove that we could neither cor- 
rupt him nor be corrected by him ; a man of consummate 
wisdom, though he himself disclaimed it, constant to the 
principles which he professed, of an eloquence worthy to 
deal with the mightiest subjects, scorning mere prettinesses 
and verbal niceties, but expressing with infinite spirit the 
ideas which inspired it. I doubt not that he was endowed 
by divine providence with so pure a life and such power of 
speech in order that our age might neither be without a 
model nor a reproach. Had some god wished to give all 
our wealth to Demetrius on the fixed condition that he 
should not be permitted to give it away, I am sure that 
he would have refused to accept it, and would have said, 

IX. “I do not intend to fasten upon my back a bur- 
den like this, of which I never can rid myself, nor do I, 
nimble and lightly equipped as I am, mean to hinder my 
progress by plunging into the deep morass of business 
transaptions. Wliy do you offer to me what is the bane of 



206 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bK. VII. 


all nations ? I would not accept it even if I meant to give 
it away, for I see many things which it would not be- 
come me to give. I should like to place before my eyes the 
things which fascinate both kings and peoples, I wish to 
behold the price of your blood and your lives. First bring 
before me the trophies of Luxury, exhibiting them as you 
please, either in succession, or, which is better, in one mass. 
I see the shell of the tortoise, a foul and slothful brute, 
bought for immense sums and ornamented with the most 
elaborate care, the contrast of colours which is admired in. 
it being obtained by the use of dyes resembling the natural 
tints. I see tables and jheces of wood valued at the price 
of a senator’s estate, which are all the more precious, the 
more knots the tree has been twisted into by disease. I see 
crystal vessels, whose price is enhanced by their fragility, foi 
among the ignorant the risk of losing things increases their 
value instead of lowering it, as it ought. I see murrhine 
cups, for luxury would be too cheap if men did not drink to 
cue another out of hollow gems the wine to be afterwards 
thrown up again. I see more than one large pearl placed in 
each ear ; for now our ears are trained to carry burdens, 
pearls are hnng from them in pairs, and each pair has other 
single ones fastened above it. This womanish folly is not 
exaggerated enough for the men of our time, unless they 
hang two or three estates upon each ear. I see ladies’ silk 
dresses, if those deserve to be called dresses wliich can 
neither cover their body or their shame ; when wearing 
which, they can scarcely, with a good conscience, swear that 
they are not naked. Tliese are imported at a vast expense 
from nations unknown even to trade, in order that our 
matrons may show as much of their persons in public as 
they do to their lovers in private.” 

X. What are you doing, Avarice ? see how many things 
there are whose price exceeds that of your beloved gold : all 
those which I have montioned are more highly esteemed 



ON BENEFITS. 


207 


C'l. X.] 

and valued. I now wisli to review your weallli, those ijlates 
of gold and silver which dazzle our covetousness. By 
Hercules, the very earth, while she brings forth upon the 
surface every thing that is of use to us, has buried theses, 
sunt them deep, and rests upon them with her whole weight, 
regarding them as pernicious substances, and likely to 
prove the ruin of mankind if brought into the light of day. 
I see that iron is brought out of the same dai'k pits as gold 
and silver, in order that we may lack neither the means nor 
the reward of murder. Thus far we have dealt with actual 
substances ; but some forms of wealtli deceive our eyes and 
minds alike. I see there letters of credit, promissory noi;cs, 
and bonds, empty phantoms of property, gliosts of sick 
Avarice, with which she deceives our minds, which delight 
in unreal fancies ; for what are these things, and what are 
interest, and account books, and usury, except the names 
of unnatural developments of human covetousness? I 
might cx)mplam of nature for not having hidden gold and 
silver deeper, for not having laid over it a weight too heavy 
to be removed : but what are your documents, your sale of 
time, your blood-sucking twelve per cent, interest ? these 
are evils which we owe to our own will, which flow merely 
from our perverted habit, having nothing about them which 
can be seen or handled, mere dreams of empty avarice. 
Wretched is he who can take pleasure in the size of the 
audit book of his estate, in great tracts of land cultivated 
by slaves in chains, in huge flocks and herds which require 
provinces and kingdoms for their pasture ground, in a 
household of servants, more in number than some of the 
most warlike nations, or in a private house whose extent sur- 
passes that of a large city 1 After he has carefully review^ed 
all his wealth, in what it is invested, and on what it is 
spent, and has rendered liimself proud by the thoughts of 
it, let him compare what he has with what he wants : he 
becomes a poor man at once. Let me go : restore me to 



208 


ON BENEriTS. 


[eK. VII, 


those riches of mine. I know the kingdom of wisdom, 
which is great and stable : I possess every thing, and in 
such a manner that it belongs to all men nevertheless.” 

XI. When, therefore, Gains Csesar offered liim two hun- 
dred thousand sesterces, he laughingly refused it, thinking it 
unworthy of himself to boast of having refused so small a 
sum. Ye gods and goddesses, what a mean mind must the 
emperor have had, if he hoped either to honour or to cor- 
rupt him. I must here repeat a proof of his magnanimity . 
I have heard that when he was expressing his wonder at 
tlie folly of Gains at supposing that he could be influenced 
by such a bribe, he said, “ If he meant to tempt me, he 
ought to have tried to do so by offering his entire king- 
dom.” 

XII. It is possible, then, to give something to the wise 
mail, although all things belong to the wise man. Simi- 
larly, though we declare that friends have all things in 
common, it is nevertheless possible to give something to 
a friend : for I have not everything in common ■with a 
friend in the same manner as with a jiartner, where one 
part belongs to him, and another to me, but rather as a 
father and a mother possess their children in common 
when they have two, not each parent possessing one child, 
but each possessing both. First of all I will prove that 
any chance would-be partner of mine has nothing in com- 
mon with me : and why ? Because this community of goods 
can only exist between wise men, who are alone capable of 
friendship : other men can neither be friends nor partners 
one to another. In the next place, things may be o'wned 
in common in various ways. The knights’ seats in the 
theatre belong to all the Eoman knights ; yet of these the 
seat which I occupy becomes my own, and if I yield it 
up to any one, although I only yield him a thing whicli we 
own in common, still I appear to have given him some- 
thing. Some things belong to certam persons under par- 



CH. XlII. 


ON BENEFITS. 


209 


ticular conditions. I have a place among tlie Imiglits, not 
to sell, or to let, or to dwell in, bnt simply to see the spec- 
tacle from, wherefore I do not tell an untruth when I say 
that I have a place among the knights’ seats. Yet if, 
when I come into the theatre, the knights’ seats are full* 
I both have a seat there by right, because I have the privi- 
lege of sitting there, and I have not a seat there, because my 
seat is occupied by those who share my right to those places. 
Suppose that the same thing takes place between friends ; 
whatever our friend possesses, is common to us, but is the 
property of him who owns it; I cannot make use of it 
against his will. “ You are laughing at me,” say you ; “if 
what belongs to my friend is mine, I am able to sell it.” 
You are not able ; for you are not able to sell your place 
among the knights’ seats, and yet they are in common be- 
tween you and the other knights. Consequently, the fact 
that you cannot sell a thing, or consume it, or exchange it 
for the better or the worse does not prove that it is not 
yours ; for that which is yours under certain conditions is 
yours nevertheless. 

XIII. * * * I have received, but certainly not less. Not 
to detain you longer than is necessary, a benefit can be no 
more than a benefit; but the means employed to convey 
benefits may be both greater and more numerous. I mean 
those things by which kindness exjuesses and gives vent to 
itself, like lovers, whose many kisses and close embraces do 
not increase their love but give it play. 

XIY. The next question which arises has been thoroughly 
threshed out in the former books, so here it shall only be 
touched on shortly ; for the arguments which have been 
used for other cases can be transferred to it. 

The question is, whether one who has done everything in 
his power to return a benefit, has returned it. “ You may 
know,” says our adversary, “ that he has not returned it, 
because he did everything in his power to return it ; it is 
P 



210 ON BENEFITS. [bK. TII. 

eTident, therefore, that he did not not do that which he 
did not have an opportnnitj of doing. A man who 
searches everywhere for his creditor without finding him 
does not therehy pay him what he owes.” Some are in 
such a position that it is their duty to effect something 
material ; in the case of others to have done all in their 
power to effect it is as good as effecting it. If a physician 
has done all in his power to heal his patient he has per- 
formed his duty ; an advocate who employs his whole 
powers of eloquence on his client’s behalf, performs hia 
duty even though his client be convicted ; the generalship 
even of a beaten commander is praised if he has prudently, 
laboriously, and courageously exercised his functions. Your 
friend has done all in his power to return your kindness, 
but your good fortune stood in his way ; no adversity 
befell you in which he could prove the truth of his friend- 
ship ; he could not give you money when you were rich, or 
nurse you when you were in health, or help you when 
you were succeeding; yet he repaid your kindness, even 
though you did not receive a benefit from him. More- 
over, this man, being always eager, and on the watch for 
an opportunity of doing this, as he has expended much 
anxiety and much trouble upon it, has reaUy done more 
than he who quickly had an oj)portunity of repaying your 
kindness. The case of a debtor is not the same, for it is 
not enough for him to have tried to find the money unless 
he pays it ; in his case a harsh creditor stands over him 
who will not let a single day pass without charging him 
interest ; in yours there is a most kind friend, who seeing 
you busy, troubled, and anxious would say. ■ 

“ ‘ Dismiss this trouble from thy breast j ’ 

leave off disturbing yourself ;T have received from you all 
that I wish ; you wrong me^if you suppose that I want 
anything further ; you have fully repaid me in intention.” 



ON BENEFITS. 


211 


CH. XV.] 

“Tell me,” says our adversary, “if lie liad repaid the 
benefit you would say that he had returned your kindness ; 
is, then, he who repays it in the same position as he who 
does not repay it ? ” 

On the other hand, consider this : if he had forgotten 
the benefit which he had received, if he had not even 
attempted to be grateful, you would say that he had not 
returned the kindness ; but this man has laboured day and 
night to the neglect of all his other duties in his devoted 
care to let no opportunity of proving his gratitude escape 
him ; is then .he who took no pains to return a kindness to 
be classed with this man who never ceased to take pains ? 
you are unjust, if you require a material payment from me 
when you see that I am not wanting in intention. 

XV. In short, suppose that when you are taken captive, 
I have borrowed money, made over my property as security 
to my creditor, that I have sailed in a stormy winter season 
along coasts swarming with pirates, that I have braved all 
the perils which necessarily attend a voyage even on a 
peaceful sea, that I have wandered througli all wildernesses 
seeking for those men whom all others flee from, and that 
when I have at length reached the pirates, someone else 
has already ransomed you; will you say that I have not 
returned your kindness? Even if during this voyage I 
have lost by shipwreck the money that I had raised to save 
you, even if I myself have fallen into the prison from 
which I sought to release you, will you say that I have not 
returned your kindness ? No, by Hercules ! the Athenians 
call Harmodius and Aristogiton, tyrannicides ; the hand of 
Mucius which he left on the enemy’s altar was equivalent 
to the death of Porsena, and valour struggling against 
fortune is always illustrious, even if it falls short of accom- 
plishing its design. He who watches each opportunity as 
it passes, and tries to avail himself of one after another, 
does more to show his gratitude than he whom the first 



212 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. VII. 


()])porttiTiity enabled to lie grateful without any trouble 
wliatever. “ But,” says our adversary, “ he gave you two 
things, material help and kindly feeling; you, therefore, 
owe him two.” You might justly say tliis to one who 
returns your kindly feeling without troubling himself 
further ; this man is really in your debt ; but you cannot 
say so of one who wishes to repay you, who struggles and 
loaves no stone unturned to do so; for, as far as in 
him lies, he repays you in both kinds ; in the next place, 
counting is not always a trae test, sometimes one thing is 
equivalent to two ; consequently so intense and ardent a 
wish to repay takes the place of a material repayment. 
Indeed, il‘ a feeling of gratitude has no value in repaying a 
kindness without giving sonietliing material, then no one 
can be grateful to the gods, whom we can repay by grati- 
tude alone. “ We (;aiinot,” says our adversary, “ give the 
gods anything else.” Well, but if I am not able to give 
this man, whose kindness I am bound to return, anything 
beside my gratitude, why should that which is all that I 
can bestow on a god be insuflicient to prove my gratitude 
towards a man ? 

XVI. If, however, you ask me what I really think, and 
wish me to give a definite answer, I should say that the 
one ‘ party ought to consider Iris benefit to have been re- 
turned, while the other ought to feel that he has not 
returned it; the one should release his friend from the 
debt, the other should hold himself bound to pay it ; the 
one should say, “ I have received ; ” the other should 
answer, “ I owe.” In our whole investigation, we ought to 
look entirely to the public good ; we ought to prevent the 
ungrateful having any excuses in which they can take 
refuge, and under cover of which they can disown their 
debts. “ I have done all in my power,” say you. Well, 
keep on doing so still. Do you suppose that our ancestors 
were so foolish, as not to understand that it is most unjust 



CH. XVI.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


218 


that the man who has wasted the money which he received 
from his creditor on debauchery, or gambling, should be 
classed with one who has lost his own property as well as 
that of others in a fire, by robbery, or some sadder 
mischaiice ? They would take no excuse, that men might 
understand that they were always bound to keep their 
word; it was thought better that even a good excuse 
should not be accepted from a few persons, than that all 
men should be led to try to make excuses. Ton say that 
you have done all in your power to repay your debt ; this 
ought to be enough for your friend, but not enough for 
you. He to whom you owe a kindness, is unworthy of 
gratitude if he lets all your anxious care and trouble to 
repay it go for nothing ; and so, too, if your friend takes 
your good will as a repayment, you are ungrateful if you 
are not all the more eager to feel the obligation of the debt 
which he has forgiven you. Ho not snap up his receipt, or 
call witnesses to prove it; rather seek opportunities for 
repaying not less than before; repay the one man because 
he asks for repayment, the other because he forgives you 
your debt ; the one because he is good, the other because 
he is bad. You need not, therefore, think that you have 
anything to do with the question whether a man be bound 
to repay the benefit which he has received from a wise 
man, if that man has ceased to be wise and has turned 
into a bad man. You would return a deposit which you 
had received from a wise man ; you would return a loan 
even to a bad man ; what grounds have you for not re- 
turning a benefit also ? Because he has changed, ought he 
to change you ? What ? if you had received anything from 
a man when healthy, would you not return it to him when 
he was sick, though we always are more bound to treat 
bur friends with more Idndness when they are ailing ? So, 
too, this man is sick in his mind ; we ought to help him, 
and bear with him ; folly is a disease of the mind. 



214 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK, VII, 


XVII. I think here we ought to make a distmctiou, in 
order to render this point more intelligible. Benefits are 
of two kinds ; one, the perfect and true benefit, which can 
only be bestowed by one wise man upon another ; the other, 
the common vulgar form which ignorant men like ourselves 
interchange. With regard to the latter, there is no doubt 
that it is my duty to repay it whether my friend turns out 
to be a murderer, a thief, or an adulterer. Crimes have 
laws to punish them ; criminals are Ixjtier reformed by 
judges tlian by ingratitude ; a man ought not to make you 
bad by being so himself. I will fling a benefit back to a bad 
man, I will return it to a good man ; I do so to the latter, 
because I owe it to him ; to the former, that I may not be 
in his debt. 

XVIII. With regard to the other class of benefit, the 
question arises whether if I was not able to take it 
without being a wise man, I am able to return it, except to 
a wise man. For suppose I do return it to him, he cannot 
receive it, he is not any longer able to receive such a thing, 
he has lost the knowledge of how to use it. You would 
not bid me throw back ‘ a ball to a man who has lost his 
hand ; it is folly to give any one what he cannot receive. 
If I am to begin to reply to the last argument, I say 
that I should not give him what he is unable to take ; but 
I would return it, even though he is not able to receive it. 
I cannot lay him under an obligation unless he takes my 
bounty ; but by returning it I can free myself from my 
obligations to him. You say, “ he will not be able to use it.’* 
Let him see to that ; the fault will lie with him, not with me. 

XIX. “ To return a thing,” says our adversary, “ is to 
hand it over to one who can receive it. Why, if you owed 
some wine to any man, and he bade you pour it into a net 
or a sieve, would you say that you had returned it? or 
would you be willing to return it in such a way that in the 
‘ i.e. in the game of ball. 



ON BENEFITS. 


215 


cn. XIX.] 

act of returning it was lost between you ? *' To return is 
to give that which you owe back to its owner when he 
wishes for it. It is not my duty to perform more than 
this ; that he should possess what he has received from 
me is a matter for further consideration ; I do not owe 
him the safe-keeping of his property, but the honourable 
payment of my debt, and it is much better that he should 
not have it, than that I should not return it to him. I would 
repay my creditor, even i;hough he would at once i-ake what 
I paid him to the market ; even if he deputed an adulteress 
to receive the money from me, I would jmy it to her ; oven 
if he were to pour the coins which he receives into a loose 
fold of his cloak, I would pay it. It is my business to 
return it to him, not to keep it and save it for him after I 
have returned it ; I am bound to take care of his bounty 
when I have received it, but not when I have returned it 
to him. While it remains with me, it must be kept safe ; 
but when he asks for it again I must give it to him, even 
though it slips out of his hands as he takes it. I will 
repay a good man when it is convenient ; I will repay a 
bad man when he asks me to do so. 

“You cannot,” argues our adversary, “return him a 
benefit of the same kind as that which you received ; for 
you received it from a wise man, and you are returning it 
to a fool.” Bo I not return to him such a beneiit, as he is 
now able to receive ? It is not my fault if I return it to 
him worse than I received it, the fault lies with him, and 
so, unless he regains his former wisdom, I shall return it 
in such a form as he in his fallen condition is able to 
receive. “But what,” asks he, “if he become not only 
bad, but savage and ferocious, like Apollodorus or Phalaris, 
would you return even to such a man as this a benefit 
which you had received from him?” I answer, Nature 
does not admit of so great a change in a wise man. Men 
do not change from the best to the worst ; even in becoming 



216 


ON BENEFITS. 


[BK. VII. 


bad, he would necessarily retain some traces of goodness ; 
virtue is never so utterly quenched as not to imprint on 
the mind marks which no degradation can efface. If wild 
animals bred in captivity escape into the woods, they still 
retain something of their original tameness, and are as re- 
mote from the gentlest in the one extreme as they are in 
the other from those which have always been wild, and have 
never endured to be touched by man’s hand. No one who has 
ever applied himself to philosophy ever becomes completely 
wicked ; his mind becomes so deeply coloured with it, that 
its tints can never be entirely spoiled and blaclvened. In 
the next place, I ask whether this man of yours be ferocious 
merely in intent, or whether ho breaks out into actual out- 
rages upon mankind? You Jiave instanced the tyrants 
Apollodorus and Phalaris ; if the bad man restrains their 
evil likeness within himself, why should I not return his bene- 
fit to him, in order to set myself free from any further dealings 
with him ? If, however, he not only delights in human, blood, 
but feeds upon it ; if he exercises his insatiable cruelty in 
the torture of persons of all ages, and his fury is not 
prompted by anger, but by a sort of delight in cruelty, if 
he cuts the throats of children before the eyes of their 
parents ; if, not satisfied with merely killing his vic- 
tims, he tortures them, and not only bums but actually 
roasts them ; if his castle is always wet with freshly shed 
blood ; then it is not enough not to return his benefits. All 
connexion between me and such a man has been broken 
off; by his destruction of the bonds of human society. If 
he had bestowed something upon me, but were to invade 
my native country, he would have lost all claim to my 
gratitude, and it would be counted a crime to make him any 
return ; if he does not attack my country, but is the scourge 
of his own; if he has nothing to do with my nation, 
but torments and cuts to pieces his own, then in the same 
manner such depravity, though it does not render him my 



OH. XX.J 


ON BENEFITS. 


217 


personal enemy, yet renders him hateful to mo, and tlie 
duty which I owe to the human race is anterior to and 
more important than that which I owe to liim as an 
individual. 

XX. However, although this be so, and although I a.m 
freed from all obligation towards him, from tlie moment 
when, by outraging all laws, he rendered it impossible for 
any man to do him a wrong, nevertheless, I think I ought 
to make the following distinction in dealing with him. 
If my repayment of his benefit will iieitlier increase nor 
maintain his powers of doing mischief to maiildnd, and is 
of such a character that I can return it to him without 
disadvantage to the public, I would return it : for instance, 
I would save the life of his infant child ; for whai. harm 
can this benefit do to any of those who sulfer from his 
cruelty? But I would not furn|sh him with money to 
pay his bodyguard. If he wishes for marbles, or line 
clothes, the trappings of his luxury will harm no one; 
but with soldiers and arms I would not furnish him. 
If he demands, as a great boon, actors and courtesans 
and such things as will soften his savage nature, I would 
willingly bestow them upon him. I would not furnish 
him with triremes and brass-beaked shi];)s of war, but I 
would send him fast sailing and luxuriously-fitted vessels, 
and all the toys of kings who take their pleasure on the 
.sea. If his health was altogether despaired of, I would 
by the same act bestow a benefit on all men and return 
one to him ; seeing that for such characters death is the 
only remedy, and that he who never will return to himself, 
had best leave himself. However, such wickedness as this 
is uncommon, and is always regarded as a portent, as when 
the earth opens, or when fires break forth from caves 
under the sea; so let us leave it, and speak of those 
vices which we can hate without shuddering at them. As 
for the ordinary bad man. whom. I can find in the market- 



218 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bK. VII. 


place of any town, wlio is feared only by individuals, I 
would return to him a benefit which I had received from 
him. It is not right that I should profit by his wicked- 
ness ; let me return what is not mine to its owner. Whether 
he be good or bad makes no difference ; but I would con- 
sider the matter most carefully, if I were not returning but 
bestowing it. 

XXI. This point requires to be illustrated by a story. A 
certain Pythagoraean bought a fine pair of shoes from a 
shoemaker ; and as they were an expensive piece of work, 
he did not pay ready money for them. Some time after- 
yrards he came to the shop to pay for them, and after he 
had long been knocking at the closed door, some one said 
to him, “ Why do you waste your time ? The shoemaker 
whom you seek has been carried out of his house and 
buried ; this is a grief to us who lose our friends for ever, 
but by no means so to you, who know that he will be born 
again,” jeering at the Pythagoraean. Upon this our phi- 
losopher not unwillingly carried his three or four denarii 
home again, shaking them every now and then ; afterwards, 
blaming himself for the pleasure which he had secretly felt at 
not paying his debt, and perceiving that he enjoyed having 
made this trifling gain, he returned to the shop, and saying, 
“ the man lives for you, pay him what you owe,” he passed 
four denarii into the shop through the crack of the closed 
door, and let* them faU inside, punishing himself for his 
unconscionable greediness that he might not form, the habit 
of appropriating that which is not his own. 

XXII. If you owe anything, seek for some one to whom 
you may repay it, and if no one demands it, dun your own 
self j whether the man be. good or bad is no concern of 
yours; repay him and then blame him. You have for- 
gotten, how your several duties are divided : it is right for 
liim to forget it, but we have bidden you bear it in mind. 
Wlion, however, we say that he who bestows a benefit ought 



CH. xxm.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


219 


to forget it, it is a mistake to suppose that we rob him of all 
recollection of the business, though it is most creditable to 
liiin ; some of our preee})ts are stated over strictly in order to 
reduce them to their true proportions. When we say that he 
ought not to remember it, we mean he ought not to speak 
piibhcly, or boast of it offensively. There are some who, 
when they have bestowed a benefit, tell it in all societies, 
talk of it when sober, cannot be silent about it when drunk, 
force it upon strangers, and communicate it to friends ; it 
is to quell this excessive and reproachful (onsciousness that 
we bid him who gave it forget it, and by commanding him 
to do this, which is more tuitn he is able, encourage him to 
keep silence. 

XXIIl. When you distrust those whom you order to do 
anything, you ought to command them to do more than 
enough in order that they may do what is enough. The 
purpose of all exaggeration is to arrive at the truth by false- 
hood. Consequently, he who spoke of horses as being : 

“ Whiter than snows and swifter than the winds,” 

said what could not possibly be in order that they might be 
thought to be as much so as possible. And he who said ; 

“ More firm than crags, more headlong than the stream,” 

did not suppose that he should make any one believe that a 
man could ever be as firm as a crag. Exaggeration never hopes 
all its daring flights to be believed, but affirms what is in- 
credible, that thereby it may convey what is credible. When 
we say, “ let the man who has bestowed a benefit, forget it,” 
what we mean is, “ let him be as though he had forgotten it ; 
let not his remembrance of it appear or be seen.” When we 
say that repayment of a benefit ought not to be demanded, 
we do not utterly forbid its being demanded ; for repayment 
must often be extorted from bad men, and even good men 
require to be reminded of it. Am I not to point out a 
means of repayment to one who does not perceive it ? Am 



220 


oar BENEFITS. 


[bk. tii. 

I not to explain my wants to one does not know them ? 
Why should he (if a bad man) have the excuse, or (if a 
good man) have the sorrow of not knowing them ? Men 
ought sometimes to be reminded of their debts, though with 
modesty, not in the tone of one demanding a legal right. 

XXIY. Socrates once said in the hearmg of his friends : 
“ I would have bought a cloak, if I had had the money for 
it.” He asked no one for money, but he reminded them all 
to give it. There was a rivalry between them, as to who 
sJiould give it ; and how should there not be ? Was it not a 
small tlimg which Socrates received ? Yes, but it was a great 
thing to be the man from whom Socrates received it. 
Could he blame them more gently ? “I would,” said be, 
“have bought a cloak if I had had the money for it.” 
After this, however eager any one was to give, he gave too 
late ; for he had already been wanting in his duty to 
Socrates. Because some men harshly demand repayment 
of debts, we forbid it, not in order that it may never be 
done, but that it may be done sparingly. 

XXV. Ai'istippus once, when enjoying a perfume, said : 
“ Bad lucif to those effeminate persons who have brought 
so nice a thing into disrepute.” We also may say, “ Bad 
luck to those base extortioners who pester us for a fourfold 
. return of their benefits, and have brought into disrepute 
so nice a thing as reminding our friends of their duty.” I 
shall nevertheless make use of tliis right of friendship, and 
I shall demand the return of a benefit from any man from 
whom I would not have scrupled to ask for one, such a man 
as would regard the power of returning a benefit as equiva- 
lent to receiving a second one. Never, not even when 
complaining of liim, would I say, 

“ A wretch forlorn upon the shore he lay, 

Ills ship, his comrades, all were swept away { 

Ftinl that I was, I pitied his despair, 

And even gave him of my realm a share.” 



CH. XXVI.] 


ON BENEFITS. 


221 


This is not to remind, but to reproach ; this is to make 
one’s benefits odious to enable him, or even to make him 
wish to be ungrateful. It is enough, and more than 
enough, to remind him of it gently and familiarly : 

“ If aught of mine hath e’er deserved thy thanks.” 

To this his answer would be, “ Of course you have deserved 
my thanks ; you took me up, ' a wretch forlorn upon the 
shore.’ ” 

XXVI. “But,” says our adversary, “suppose that we 
gain nothing by this ; su})pose that he pretends that he 
has forgotten it, what ouglit I to do ? ” You now ask a 
very necessary question, and one which fitly concludes this 
branch of the subject, how, namely, one ought to bear with 
the ungrateful. I answer, calmly, gently, magnanimously. 
Never let any one’s discom-tesy, forgetfulness, or ingrati- 
tude, enrage you so much that you do not feel any pleasure 
at having bestowed a benefit upon him ; never let your 
wrongs drive you into saying, “ I wish I ha,d not done it.” 
You ought to take pleasure even in the ill-success of your bene- 
fit ; he will always be sorry for it, even though you are not 
even now sorry for it. You ought not to be indignant, as if 
something strange had happened ; you ought rather to be 
surprised if it had not happened. Some are prevented by 
difficulties, some by expense, and some by danger from 
returning your bounty ; some are hindered by a false 
shame, because by returning it, they would confess that 
they had received it ; with others ignorance of their duty, 
indolence, or excess of business, stands in the way. Eeflect 
upon the insatiability of men’s desires. You need not be 
surprised if no one repays you in a world in which no one 
ever gains enough. What man is there of so firm and 
trustworthy a mind that you can safely invest your bene- 
fits in him ? One man is crazed with lust, another is the 
slave of his belly, another gives his whole soul to gain, 



222 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bK. VII. 


caring nothing for the means by which he amasses it; 
some men’s minds are disturbed by envy, some blinded by 
ambition till they are ready to fling themselves on the 
sword’s point. In addition to this, one must reckon 
sluggishness of mind and old age ; and also the opposites 
of these, restlessness and disturbance of mind, also exces- 
sive self-esteem and pride in the very things for which a 
man ought to be despised. I need not mention obstinate 
persistence in wrong-doing, or frivolity which cannot 
remain constant to one point ; besides all this, there is 
headlong rashness, there is timidity which never gives us 
trustworthy counsel, and the numberless errors with which 
we struggle, the rashness of the most cowardly, the quar- 
rels of our best friends, and that most common evil of 
trusting in what is most uncertain, and of undervaluing, 
when we have obtained it, that which we once never hoped 
to possess. Amidst all these restless passions, how can 
you hope to find a thing so full of rest as good faith ? 

XXVII. If a true picture of our life were to rise before 
your mental vision, you would, I think, behold a scene like 
that of a town just taken by storm, where decency and righ- 
teousness were no longer regarded, and no advice is heard 
but that of force, as if universal confusion were the word of 
command. Neither fire nor sword are spared; crime is 
unpunished by the laws ; even religion, which saves the lives 
of suppliants in the very midst of armed enemies, does not 
check those who are rushing to secure plunder. Some men 
rob private houses, some public buildings ; all places, sacred 
or profane, are alike stripped; some burst their way in, 
others climb over; some open a wider path for them- 
selves by overthrowing the walls that keep them out, 
and make their way to their booty over ruins; some 
ravage without murdering, others brandish spoils dripping 
with their owner’s blood; everyone carries off liis neigh- 
bours’ goods. In this greedy struggle of the human race 



CH. XXVIII.] 


ON BENEFITS, 


223 


surely you forget the common lot of all maulmid, if you 
seek among these robbers for one who will return what ho 
has got. If you are indignant at men being ungrateful, 
you ought also to be indignant at their being luxurious, 
avaricious and lustful; you might as well be indignant 
with sick men for being ugly, or with old men for being 
pale. It is, indeed, a serious vice, it is not to be borne, and 
sots men at variance with one another ; nay, it rends and 
destroys that union by which alone our human weakness can 
be supported ; yet it is so absolutely universal, that even 
those who complain of it most are not themselves free from it. 

XXVIII. Consider within yourself, whetlier you liavo 
always shown gratitude to those to whom you owe it, 
whether no one’s kindness has ever been wasted upon you, 
whether you constantly bear in mind all the benefits which 
you have received. You will find that those winch you 
received as a boy were forgotten before you became a man ; 
that those bestowed upon you as a yoimg man slipped from 
your memory when you became an old one. Some we 
have lost, some we have thrown away, some have by 
degrees passed out of our sight, to some we have wilfully 
shut our eyes. If I am to make excuses for your weakness, 
I must say in the first place that human memory is a frail 
vessel, and is not large enough to contain the mass of 
things placed in it ; the more it receives, the naore it must 
necessarily lose; the oldest things in it give way to the 
newest. Thus it comes to pass that your nurse has hardly 
any influence with you, because the lapse of time has set 
the kindness which you received from her at so great a 
distance; thus it is that you no longer look upon your 
teacher with respect ; and that now when you are busy 
about your candidatui’e for the consulate or the priesthood, 
you forget those who supported you in your election to the 
quaestorship. If you carefully examine yourself, perhaps 
you will find the vice of which you complain in your own 



224 


ON BENEFITS. 


[be. vrr. 


bos >ni ; you are wrong in being angry with a universal 
failing, and foolish also, for it is your own as well ; you 
must pardon others, that you may yourself be acquitted. 
You will mate your friend a better man by bearing with 
bin, you will in all cases make him a worse one by re- 
proaching him. You can have no reason for rendering him 
shameless; let him preserve any remnants of modesty 
which he may have. Too loud reproaches have often dis- 
pi.dled a modesty which might have borne good fruit. No 
man fears to be that which all men see that he is ; when 
his fault is made public, he loses his sense of shame. 

XXIX. You say, “ I have lost the benefit which I be- 
stowed.” Yet do we say that we have lost what we conse- 
crate to heaven, and a benefit well In^stowed, even though 
we get an ill return for it, is to be reckoned among things 
consecrated. Our friend is not such a man as we hoped he 
v,^as ; still, let us, unlike him, remain the same as we were. 
The loss did not take place when he proved himself so ; his 
ingratitude cannot be made public without reflecting some 
shame upon us, since to complain of the lois of a benefit is 
a sign that it was not well bestowed. As far as we are able 
we ought to plead vdth ourselves on his behalf : “ Perhaps 
he was not able to return it, perhaps he did not know of it, 
peihaps he will still do so.” A wise and forbearing creditor 
prevents the loss of some debts by encouraging his debtor 
and giving him time. We ought to do the same, we ought 
to deal tenderly with a weakly sense of honour, 

XXX. “ I have lost,” say you, “ the benefit which I be- 
stowed.” You are a fool, and do not understand when 
your loss took place ; you have indeed lost it, but you did 
so when you gave it, the fact has only now come to light. 
Even in the case of those benefits which appear to be lost, 
gentleness will do much good; the wounds of the mind 
ought to be handled as tenderly as those of the body. The 
string, which might be disentangled by patience, is often 



cn. XXXI.1 


ON BENEFITS. 


broken by a rough pull. What is the use of abuse, or of 
complaints ? why do you overwhelm him with reproaches ? 
why do you set him free from his obligation ? even if he be 
ungrateful he owes you nothing after this. Wliat sense is 
there in exasperating a man on whom you have conferred 
great favours, so as out of a doubtful friend to make a 
certain enemy, and one, too, who will seek to support his 
own cause by defammg you, or to make men say. “ I do 
not know what the reason is that he cannot endure a 
man to whom he owes so much; there must be some- 
thing in the background ? ” Any man can asperse, even if 
he does not permanently stain the reputation of his betters 
by complaining of them; nor will any one be satisfied 
witli imputing small crimes to them, when it is only by 
the enormity of his falsehood that lie can hope to be 
believed. 

XXXI. Wliat a much better way is that by which the 
semblance of friendship, and, indeed, if the other regains to 
his right mind, friendship itself is jircserved ! Bad men are 
overcome by unwearying goodness, nor does any one receive 
kindness in so harsh and hostile a spirit as not to love good 
men even while he does them wrong, when they lay Iiiin 
under the additional obligation of requiring no return 
for their kindness. Keflect, then, upon this : you say, 
“ My kindness has met with no return, what am I to 
do ? I ought to imitate the gods, thoso noblest disposers 
of all events, who begin to bestow their benefits on those 
who know them not, and persist in bestowing them on 
those who are ungrateful for them. Some reproach them 
with neglect of us, some with injustice towards us ; others 
place them outside of their own world, in sloth and in- 
difference, without light, and without any functions ; others 
declare that the sun itself, to whom we owe the division of 
our times of labour and of rest, by whose means we are 



226 


ON BENEFITS. 


[bk. tii. 


saved from being plunged in the darkness of eternal niglit ; 
wlio by his circuit orders the seasons of the year, gives 
strength to our bodies, brings forth our crops and ripens 
our fruits, is merely a mass of stone, or a fortuitous collec- 
tion of fiery particles, or anything rather than a god. Yet, 
nevertheless, like the kindest of parents, who only smile at 
the spiteful words of their children, the gods do not cease 
to heap benefits upon those who doubt from what source 
their benefits are derived, but continue impartially distri- 
buting their bounty among all the peoples and nations of 
the earth. Possessing only the power of doing good, they 
moisten the land with seasonable showers, they put the 
seas in movement by the winds, they mark time by the 
course of the constellations, they temper the extremes of 
lieat and cold, of summer and whiter, by breathing a 
milder air upon us ; and they graciously and serenely bear 
with the faults of our enaiig spirits. Let us follow their 
example ; let us give, even if much be given to no purpose, 
let us, in spite of this, give to others ; nay, even to those 
upon whom our bounty has been wasted. No one is pre- 
vented by tlie fall of a house from building another ; when 
one home has been destroyed by fire, we lay the foundations 
of another before the site has had time to cool ; we rebuild 
ruined cities more than once upon the same spots, so un- 
tiring are our hopes of success. Men would undertake no 
woiics cither on land or sea if they were not willing to try 
again what they have failed in once. 

XXXII. Suppose a man is ungrateful, he does not in- 
jure me, but himself ; I had the enjoyment of my benefit 
when I bestowed it upon him. Because he is ungrateful, I 
shall not be slower to give but more careful ; what I have 
lost with him, I shall receive back from others. But I will 
bestow a second benefit upon this man himself, and will 
overcome him even as a good husbandman overcomes the 



CH. XXXII,] ON BENEFITS. 227 

sterility of tlie soil by care and culture ; if I do not do so 
my benefit is lost to me, and lie is lost to mankind. It is 
no proof of a great mind to give and to tlirow away one’s 
bounty ; the true test of a great mind is to throw away 
one’s bounty and still to give.” 




INDEX. 


A. 

A cademy, les. 

Acliaeans, 143. 

Achilles, lOi). 
iEneas, 84, 190. 
iEschines, 11, 12. 

Aitna, 84, 190. 

Aglaia, 6. 

Agrippa, Marcus, 79, 186. 
Alcibiades, 12. 

Alexander the Great, 17, 3.3, 127, 
128, 199. 

Allobroges, 142. 

Allobrogicus, 112. 

Alps, 142. 

Antigonus, 34, 84. 

Antonius, 42, 14.3, 157, 

ApoHodorus, 215, 216. 

Arcesilaus, 27, 40. 

Archelaus, 128, 129. 

Aristides, 109. 

Aristippus, 220. 

Aristo, 79. 

Aristogiton, 211. 

Arrhidaeus, 113. 

Arruntius, 192. 

Augustus, 20, 42, 43, 73, 74, 80, 
186. 

Avarice, 206. 


B. 

Bacchus, 18, 199. 

Bion, 203. 

Brutus, Marcus, 38, 39. 

C. 

Caesar, Gaius (Caligula), 30, 40, 1 13, 

208 . 

Caesar, Julius, 28, 38, 39, 72, 152, 
153. 

Caesar, Tiberius, 20, 73, 154. 
Callistratus, 190. 

Cambyses, 200. 

Camillus, 109, 144. 

Campanians, 201. 

Catilina, 142, 144. 

Cato, Marcus, 131,144. 

Chrysippus, 7, 8, 34, 70, 205. 

Cicero, 112, 203. 

Cimbri, 142. 

Cinna, 112. 

Circus Flaminius, 143 
Claudius, 20. 

Claudius Quadrigarius, 71. 
Cleanthes, 139, 165, 166. 

Cnaeus Lcntulus. See Lentulus. 
Cnaeus Pompeius. See Pompeius, 
Colline Gate, 142. 



230 


INDEX, 


Corfiniiiin, 72. 

Corintli, l7. 

(yoriolaiiiiH, 142, 

Crispus Fassicuus, 20. 

Cynic school, 34. 

Cyprus, 84. 

Cyrus, 200. 

D. 

Docins, 109, 190. 

Dcrnades, 191. 

Demaratus, 184, 185. 
llemotrius, a cynic philosopher, 196, 
198, 205, sq^. 

Dioj^enes, 127. 

Divorce, 65. 

Domitius, 72. 

Dorus, a bookseller, 203. 

E. 

Eclipse of the sun, 129, 

Epi(uirus, Epicureans, 55, 87, 97, 

102 . 

Ethical philosophy, 26. 

Euphrates, 76. 
liliiplirosyne, 6. 

Eurynome, 7, 

Exaggeration, 210, 

F. 

Fabins (Cunctator), 109. 

Fabius Fersicus, 40, 112. 

Fabius Vcrriicosns, 25, 112. 

Fubii, 125. See also 112. 

Furnius, 42. 

G. 

G aiu-s, Caesar (Caligula). See Caesar. 
Game at ball, 214. 


Gauls, 172, 173, 

Germanicus, 113. 

Gladiators, 39, 50. 

Graces, 6, 7. 

Gracchus, 188, 

Graecinus, Julius, 40, 

Greek intellect, 8. 

Grumentum, 71. 

Gryllus, 79, 

II. 

Harmodius, 211, 

Haterius, 192. 

Hecaton, 36, 40,67, 199. 

Hercules, 17, 18, 92, 99. 

Hesiod, 6, 7. 

Homer, 6, 7, 

I. 

Ingratitude, should it be punislied 
56, sqq. 

J. 

Julius Caesar. See Csl but, 

Julims Graecinus, 40. 

Jupiter, 7, 8, 91. 

K. 

King, 38. 

Knights’ seats, 208, sj. 

L. 

Lacedaemonians, 125, 140, 184, 
Leather money, 140. 

Lentulus, Cnaeus, 42. 

Liber, 92. 

Lion in amphitheatre, 381. 

Livius Drusus, 188. 



INDliX. 


231 


Livius, Titus, the historian, 203. 
Luxury, 206. 

Lynceus, 109. 

M. 

Macedonia, 57, 118. 

Maecenas, 186. 

Mamercus Scaurus, 113, 

Manlius, 84. 

Marius, Caius, 142. 

Marius Ncpos, 26. 

Maro, 73. 

Marsi, 72. 

Mercury, 7, 92. 

Mucius, 109, 211. 

Munda, 153. 

Muses, 7. 

K 

Nile, 162. 

Nomenclator, 7, 187. 

0 . 

Octavius, 80. 

Onesicritus, 199. 

Ovid, 98. 

P. 

Parents and children, 61, 75. 
Pasithea, 6. 

•Paulus, 73. 

Pausanias, 1 19, 

Peripatetic philosophy, 139. 

Persian despotism, 30. 

Pirates, 9, 37, 164, 211. 

Phalaris, 215, 216. 

Phidias, 49. 

Philip of Macedonia, 118, 119, 120. 
Plu’ygian robes, 7. 

?lato, 79, 131, 165, 172. 


Po, 172. 

Pompoius, Cnaeus, 142, 143. 
Pompeius Pennus, 30. 

Pompeius Sextus, 112. 

Por.sena, 143. 

Praeneste, 142. 

Pythagorean and shoemaker, 218, 

R. 

Rabirins, 157. 

Rebilius, 40. 

Rod Sea, 1 99, 

Regulus, 126. 

Rhine, 76. 

Rhodians, 143. 

Romulus, 92. 

Rufus, 73. 

Rutilius, 144, 190. 

S. 

Sardis, 186. 

Scaurus, Mamercus, 1 1 3. 

Scipio, 80, 81, 144, 190. 

Select judges, 58. 

Seneca, 92. 

Sextus PomjHjius, 112. 

Signet rings, 64 (compare 73). 
Sinus, fold of toga, 48. 

Socrates, 11, 12, 79, 127.131, 205, 

220 . 

Sophi’oniscus, 79. 

Stoics and stoicism, 19, 38, 47, 87, 
92, 108, 109, 120, 130, 137-139, 
200 . 

Sucro, 153. 

T. 

Tarpeian rock, 203. 

Tarejuin, 39. 

Thalia, 6, 7. 



m 




Thertnopyiaes 1S5. 

I'iberius OaeiSa)*, £!6, 73» 194 
a'ibur, 96. 

TiPuth in a well, 197. 

Tumus, 194. 

Tttsculum, 96, 

V. 

Venus, 7. 

Verrucosus, 112. See Fabius V. 
Vettius, 72. 

Virgil (his old soldier), 11, 


W. 

Wi-estHng, 196. 

X 

Xenophon, 79. 
Xerxes, 184, 185. 
Xucar, 153. 

Z. 

Zeno, 120, 12’, 205. 


CHISWICK PRK8S C. WHITTINGHAM ANP CO., TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY l-ANH